Employer Issues

As Expected, States Will Have More Control and Greater Flexibility in Regulating Obamacare Starting in 2019

In a CMS press release the Trump Administration announced yesterday, as expected, that beginning in 2019 individual states will have more control and greater flexibility in regulating the individual health insurance market and the Obamacare Marketplace (aka the Exchange). In a summary of the “final 2019 Payment Notice Rule” CMS highlighted provisions that were intended to increase flexibility, improve affordability, and decrease administrative burdens.

 

It’s likely that changes made at the individual state level will ultimately have some impact either directly or indirectly on employer sponsored health coverage, particularly the small group market. We will be monitoring this very closely for our clients and will report back, especially as we get closer to 2019 and more information becomes available.

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the headlines and links to the respective articles following yesterday’s announcement by CMS:

Here’s a link to the CMS press release:

 

IRS Changes 2018 HSA Family Contribution Limit

On March 5, 2018 the IRS announced in it’s IRS HSA Bulletin that the 2018 contribution limit for Health Savings Accounts (HSA) linked to family coverage is now $6,850 from the previously announced $6,900.  For more information regarding these changes please see the attached IRS HSA Bulletin or linked SHRM article

 

 

Warren Buffett on the Amazon/Berkshire/Chase health venture — “Don’t Expect Any Miracles Out Of Us”

A month and change has now passed since the great splash of January’s big Amazon/Berkshire/Chase health venture announcement. It certainly was successful in disrupting the news cycle. The initially sky-high healthcare “Richter Scale” readings are returning to normal. And, it’s pretty safe to say that any substantive changes, major disruption, and any new normal that may be triggered by this venture on big healthcare (20% of the economy), other employers – big, small and in between, and everybody else are not on the immediate horizon.

Like the CVS/Aetna venture announced last December, real change is likely to be More Tortoise Than Hare.

A sampling of Warren Buffett’s comments in some of his recent interviews with Bloomberg, CNBC, and KHN may provide you with a little more insight and a glimpse of some of his expectations.

Here are a few sound bytes from recent Buffett interviews:

He said that the goal of the business is “better care, lower costs,”and, that it will take time.”

This is not easy. If it was easy, it would have been done.”

It would be very easy I think to go in and shave off 3 or 4 percent just by negotiating power. We’re looking for something much bigger than that.”

He spoke of health-care spending taking up an increasing proportion of the U.S. economy, and a indicated that the goal of the venture is to “at least” halt that ascendant trend.

Buffett also stated that he hopes “we could find a way where perhaps better care could be delivered even at somewhat lesser cost.”

To read more go to Bloomberg: Buffett-Dimon Health Venture To Go Beyond Just Squeezing The Middlemen 

Health Coverage By the Numbers (vol 2): The Cost of Coverage and Employer Contributions

Job-based health insurance is still far and away the largest single source of health care coverage in the U.S. As we continue to work on behalf of clients to drive new and better ways to stem the tide of health care costs, here are some key stats from 2017 to ponder:

1.)  Average annual premium nationally for single coverage — .$6,690 (or $557 per month)

2.)  Average annual premium nationally for family coverage — .$18,764 (or $1,564 per month)

3.)  Generally speaking, most employers cover at least 50% of the employee’s cost of premium. Nationally, employers cover on average 81% of the cost of single (employee only) premium.

4.)  Not all employers contribute to family coverage. Employers that do contribute to family coverage, cover on average 69% of the cost to cover dependents.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

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