It won’t take long before the fate of Obamacare (ACA) becomes clear in Congress, as the budget reconciliation bills introduced in both the House and Senate require committee actions by the end of January. Budget reconciliation will prove to be the means to repeal or not. Either way, it will be months (if not years) of fighting over the exact form and substance of anything to replace it.
Obamacare may well be the most complex bit of comprehensive law ever passed, and every part of it is attached to every other part. Much like a hand-woven garment, once you start pulling on a single thread, you realize that one thread winds its way throughout, essentially binding all essential parts of the garment. Politically this will play out as a face-off between its supporters – forced to own all the failed aspects of Obamacare, and its opponents – who will be labeled as the new owners of all the problems created by its replacement. Neither position is very attractive.
For all these reasons, Hixme and others have invested substantially in world-class advisors in Washington D.C. over the last several years. We’ve worked closely with those creative minds who have sought to design business models that are maximally insulated from the outcome of all this insanity.
For example, it is widely expected that congressional actions will target the costly public exchanges and replace the premium tax credits with a more cost effective and more broadly available means for subsidies. Successful employer models will need to be indifferent to these changes, as Hixme has done by using the broad insurance market outside of the Obamacare exchanges, and by focusing on larger employers who still use and value sponsorship of benefits (not taxpayer subsidies) to attract great workers.
As another example, congressional replacement actions will likely elevate the use of pretax banking and savings vehicles to expand coverage beyond health insurance and make coverage more portable from state to state. In line with this, the Hixme model is already built on a “bundle” basis for coverages that include elements of health insurance, pre-tax savings and other banking features. Additionally, Hixme coverage is completely portable – this individual ownership allows local solutions for any worker or family member, transferrable from one part of the country to another.
Finally, Congress is clearly interested in removing restrictions on plan variety (beyond the limited Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum designations of coverage), to allow the market itself to stimulate values and successes. This will be great for employers who are looking for more variety and flexibility to meet the needs and limitations of more diverse workers with very different capacities and interests. Variety is a core part of the Hixme model and our value will only improve with fewer plan restrictions.
So while it will be interesting to watch the legislative maneuvering play out this month – and throughout 2017 – with such different health policy philosophies, for companies like Hixme with innovative approaches to re-define the benefits marketplace, all is well.