For Many CEOs, Obama-Era Healthcare Benefits are Here to Stay

Political wrangling over the direction of national healthcare policy doesn’t just have big implications for individuals. Businesses, too, could be set to benefit from lower cost burdens, should the Affordable Care Act be repealed and replaced.

For many CEOs, however, whatever happens in Washington today won’t make much difference. That’s because the need to attract and retain talent, and keep workers engaged, may prompt them to continue following some of the Obama administration’s rules, even if they no longer have to.

“As we see an increased focus on employee productivity, employers will be careful about the implications of change, not just from a dollars and cents perspective, but in terms of employee perceptions,” said Julie Stone, national healthcare practice leader at London-based consultancy Willis Towers Watson.

The House is set to vote this afternoon on a revised repeal-and-replace bill that some Republicans are confident will pass this time around. “Would you have confidence? We’re going to pass it,” House majority leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters last night.

“Even if caps are placed on the amount of premium dollars from which employers can gain tax exemptions, just 16% of respondents said they were “very likely” and 31% were “somewhat likely” to make changes to their policies.”

Successful passage would have positive implications for other Donald Trump policies, such as tax reform, though the healthcare bill would still need to get through a potentially more hostile Senate.

If it does, employers are unlikely to make changes to their broader healthcare strategy, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey of 666 U.S. companies with more than 200 staff.

Just 6% said they were “very likely” to make changes if the so-called employer mandate is repealed. The mandate requires companies to offer affordable, minimum-value coverage to all full-time employees or pay a penalty. Some 13% of respondents said they were “somewhat likely” to make a change.

Even if caps are placed on the amount of premium dollars from which employers can gain tax exemptions, just 16% of respondents said they were “very likely” and 31% were “somewhat likely” to make changes to their policies.

Respondents also were three times more likely than not to keep unlimited lifetime benefits in place, even if they’re repealed. They also were six times more likely than not to maintain contraceptive care coverage.

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