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Presidential Election Shakes Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act and employer-sponsored health insurance, the two presidential candidates are on opposite spectrums.

By Vera Gruessner

Healthcare policy of US presidential candidates depends on more than their perspective on the Affordable Care Act. With employer-sponsored health insurance still a major aspect of coverage among Americans since fewer are insured through Medicaid expansion programs or state-based ACA exchanges, it will be imperative to discuss the perspectives of the presidential candidates on employer-sponsored health insurance.

Affordable Care Act

According to a white paper from the American Health Policy Institute, the presidential proposals for the future of employer-sponsored health insurance will play a large role in Americans’ healthcare coverage options in the coming years.

When it comes to the health insurance exchanges, the way things are moving, the future may show only one insurer operating through the exchanges in 25 percent of counties by 2017, the report predicts. If the health plans available in the exchanges begin dropping away or simply become unaffordable, the federal government would need to act to create healthcare coverage options to those who are becoming uninsured.

The Republican proposal

As such, it is critical to understand the presidential candidates’ positions on employer-sponsored health insurance. On the side of the Republican candidate Donald Trump, the representative is looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately with a particular focus on ending the individual mandate that requires all Americans to have healthcare coverage or risk paying a penalty.

READ MORE: Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Need Affordable Care Act

Some other vital proposals from the Republican Party include the selling of health plans across state lines, the ability to deduct premiums from taxable income, and the inclusion of Health Savings Accounts along with high deductible health plans.

Additionally, the healthcare reform proposals from the Trump Campaign included the ability to cut drug costs by eliminating restrictions on international drug importation as well as price transparency increases.

When considering the Republican Party’s healthcare reform proposals, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act must not be missed. This plan looks at ways that a number of reforms could improve the capability among employers to provide employer-sponsored health insurance among their workers, the American Health Policy report stated.

“House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, released an outline of a health care plan in June 2016 titled A Better Way. This plan was a first look at core GOP priorities for health care reform. Unlike Trump’s plan, A Better Way makes a point of laying out a series of reforms aimed at strengthening the ability of employers to offer healthcare benefits to their employees,” the report from the American Health Policy Institute stated.

READ MORE: Affordable Care Act, Exchanges Challenge Health Payers

“The plan proposes policies that protect wellness programs and self-insurance. The GOP plan encourages employers to take an active role in providing care to their employees by limiting the reach of the American with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act have on wellness programs, expanding HSA utilization by allowing catch-up contributions, and by increasing accessibility to HSAs for underserved populations.”

While the Republican side still insists that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act will take place, reality shows that such an action would strip healthcare coverage from millions of people and a more realistic approach would be to amend some aspects of the ACA.

The Democratic proposal

Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has proposed building on and expanding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Clinton has also called for repealing one aspect of the ACA - the Cadillac Tax. The white paper outlines that the Cadillac Tax is essentially an “excise tax on high-cost health insurance.”

To make up for the revenue lost by repealing this tax, Hillary Clinton suggests increasing taxes among the upper classes. Along with mandating that health plans cover preventive care under the ACA, the Democratic Party’s reforms involve having insurers cover up to three sick visits yearly. Another provision that Clinton has made is creating a refundable tax credit for consumers who have faced “excessive out-of-pocket costs.”

READ MORE: Did the Affordable Care Act Lower Medicare Spending?

According to a report written by Robert D. Reischauer and Alice M. Rivlin of the Brookings Institution, the Democratic Party will need to compromise with Republicans in order to engage this side in passing legislation that would fix certain obstacles within the Affordable Care Act. Common ground will be key between the two parties in order to pass a bill that would correct some of the technical issues within the ACA.

“The Democratic campaign should lay out those areas that its health policy experts feel need fixing. The list should include a more generous tax credit and cost-sharing schedule for exchange participants; a fix for the employer-based insurance “glitch;”i and augmented federal grants for IT development and operations, education, outreach, enrollment and oversight and enforcement of insurance regulations,” the authors from the Brookings Institution suggested in their report.

The future of the healthcare insurance industry will be linked tightly to the positions taken by the two presidential candidates and which party wins the White House this November.

Image Credits: American Health Policy Institute

 

Dig Deeper:

How Health Insurance Industry Faces the Presidential Elections

Both Political Parties Seek to Replace the Affordable Care Act

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