Juliana Reno was quoted in an article about how dropping health coverage would disadvantage employers in SHRM on July 5, 2017. Buried in the Congressional Budget Office's recent forecast that 22 million more Americans would lack health insurance in 2026 under the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), now awaiting a mid-July Senate vote, was another finding: 4 million Americans currently with employment-based coverage would lack insurance next year, followed by smaller drop-offs in subsequent years, if the Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law.
On expert said, "The CBO estimates that the large majority of that [22 million] decrease will be the result of cuts to Medicaid and individuals cancelling or failing to renew their individual market insurance. However, the CBO also estimates that some coverage losses will be attributable to employer-sponsored health coverage."
Scuttling the individual mandate penalties would let workers opt out of participating in an employer-sponsored plan—or any other health coverage—to avoid paying plan premiums. Such a move may not be wise, but it would no longer trigger penalties of up to 2.5 percent of household income or $2,085 per person.
That's not to say that all employers would continue providing health benefits, however. "If the Senate's health care bill becomes law, I expect certain companies to stop offering health coverage by the end of the year," said benefits attorney Juliana Reno. "These would be the same employers—generally those with a substantial number of low-wage, high-turnover positions—that offered little or no health coverage before the ACA and added coverage primarily to avoid penalties." She added, however, that "other companies view health benefits as a tool for recruiting and retention, and I do not expect them to make many changes. In between, it is going to be a balancing act."