ACA in the Workplace: Loopholes Abound

By December 12, 2014 No Comments

By: Maurice Gilbert

nursesThe Affordable Care Act (ACA), touted by some as a long-awaited cure for the broken health care industry, has benefited some for certain.  But for many others, its enactment has further complicated an already complex system.  The infrastructure has been overloaded with an influx of newly insured patients, and this strain comes on top of projected labor shortages in every health care profession.

But for employers and the insured (or uninsured, as the case may be), the costs are mounting, as well.  One of the merits of the ACA was supposed to be – you guessed it – affordability, but many are crying foul; premiums for millions have increased rather than declined with the ACA’s implementation.  Consequently, according to a recent study, 16 percent of employers are set to offer “skinny” plans in 2015.

These skinny plans amount to lower-benefit coverage and fail to meet ACA standards.  However, when a skinny plan is offered alongside at least one health plan that does satisfy ACA requirements, the employer and any participating employees are able to sidestep penalties – the company has offered an option that measures up, but the employee chose otherwise; the employee is covered by insurance, just not very well.

Some skinny plans cover preventative care and nothing else, which would leave the insured on the hook for huge medical bills in the case of a medical emergency or hospital stay.  For low-wage employees, though, the skinny plan may in effect be the only option, as the more substantial plans are still too expensive.  What’s further troubling here, however, is the fact that employees at companies offering an ACA-compliant plan are disqualified from getting subsidized insurance on healthcare.gov or other online exchanges, regardless of whether they opt for one of the company’s policies.

It is worth noting that upwards of 80 percent of employers reported planning to offer only plans that meet ACA standards, but the more than one in six companies with skinny plans in the works is still an awfully large figure, considering the millions of workers who will be under-insured as a result.

When weighing benefit plans for your employees, of course the bottom line has to be top of mind.  But it’s also critical for employers not to lose sight of the needs of their greatest assets: their people.


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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