Employers convinced mandate is dead

Here we go again.

In an event about as frequent as a bipartisan vote, employers are apparently on the same page as their employees.  

They’re convinced the Supreme Court will toss out the individual mandate later this month while letting other provisions stand. This is according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ Supreme Court Affordable Care Act survey.

According to a press release, IFEBP surveyed  plan administrators, trustees and organizational representatives from single-employers/corporations, multiemployer trust funds and public/governmental employers in early May and received more than 1,000 responses. The survey covered a wide range of organizations across the country.  

A full two-thirds of those surveyed asserted the mandate would simply be struck down – keeping other parts of the law intact. Everyone else either thought it would all be scrapped or saved. The split was nearly even.

Brenda Hoffman, public relations associate for IFEBP, said in an email that the survey did not outright ask whether these responding employers were for or against health care reform in its entirety.

"The survey did ask which specific provisions employers would like to see remain, but did not ask the blanket statement of ‘as an employer are you for or against health care reform’?" Hoffman said. But the survey shows more than half (58 percent) believe the only positive financial outcome for them is if the entire health care law is overturned. At this point, however, close to half responded that they're in a "wait and see" mode.

Two of the most popular aspects of the law? Extending coverage of adult children to the age of 26 and the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions, of course.

In fact, again, oddly enough, with employers and employees almost on the exact same pages with regard to what they’d like to see the court keep intact:

What employers would like to remain:

  • Ability to offer increased wellness incentives – 33 percent.
  • Required elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions – 23 percent.
  • Required coverage of adult children up to age 26 – 22 percent.

What workers would like to remain:

  • Required coverage of adult children up to age 26 – 59 percent.
  • Required elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions – 34 percent.
  • No cost sharing for preventive care – 32 percent.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that employers are offering opinions – or predilections – disconnected from reality.

As one broker (and former lawyer) said, “At some level, employers are suggesting the Supreme Court throws out the mandate and then go back through the law picking and choosing the surviving components based on nothing more than the popularity of the provisions instead of how intertwined the provisions are with the mandate. The interplay between the mandate and pre-ex is critical. Performing cosmetic surgery on Frankenstein’s monster sounds extremely dicey. That slope gets slippery very quickly.”

Either way, those employers are paying attention: three in five organizations, in fact, said they were following the Supreme Court decision “extremely or very closely and fewer than two percent say they are not monitoring the case at all.”

More individual mandate articles from BenefitsPro

Court: What's left of health reform without mandate?

Striking individual mandate poses potential employer challenges

Loss of individual mandate wouldn't kill health law

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