By Kerstin Nemec and Tim Norwood
Health insurance premiums through HealthCare.gov are reported to rise almost 23 percent in 2017. Individuals seeking coverage through the Marketplace are not alone, as employer provided plans are also experiencing increased costs of 6.5 percent. Per the Large Employer’s 2017 Health Plan Design Survey, the primary cause driving these cost increases is the surge in spending on pharmaceuticals and specialty drugs, followed by high cost claimants and specific diseases and conditions.
So, what is on the horizon for healthcare and managing costs? There are many individual strategies that employers can utilize yet the looming question remains that impacts both businesses and individuals alike. How do we provide affordable access to medical coverage to all Americans without costs skyrocketing?
Affordable Healthcare Under the Trump Administration
During the recent election, there was discussion by both candidates regarding affordable healthcare. Under the new Trump administration many reforms are under discussion, especially those surrounding the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Changes under discussion include repealing penalties and mandates, allowing the sale of health insurance across states lines to expand competition and reduce costs, allowing individual health premium deductions on tax returns and HSA’s, and many other reforms to lower healthcare costs that burden all Americans.
63% of Americans Favor Some Type of Universal Healthcare
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 was created with the intention of getting more Americans affordable health insurance, primarily through Medicaid expansion and the establishment of Health Insurance Marketplaces. While not a perfect health reform, the ACA has been successful in reducing the number of uninsured Americans by almost 20 million Americans. While not always front page news, 80% of Americans believe having a system that ensures sick people get the care they need is a moral issue, and that 63% of us favor some type of Universal Healthcare System (Health Day/Harris Poll).
2017 Will Be a Transitional Year for Everyone
As you can see, it is complicated and hard to predict what’s next for health reform and what it means for employers and employees. We do know for certain there will be change and if the past is any indicator of the future, it will take longer than anyone would like. We also believe that some type of system that ensures access for those who need it most will be part of the picture. It will be critical for employers and employees to stay close to the changes. Employers will need to do so in order to craft benefit plans that make the most sense for their employees, control costs and fit the culture of their company. Employees will need to do so as coverage through their employer may not always be the best option for their personal circumstances. Either way, we see 2017 as a transitional year of evaluation and education for all parties, with a fresh look at more marketplace freedom.