VP of Compliance and Operations, United Benefit Advisors
On the evening of October 12, 2017, President Trump announced that cost sharing reductions for low income Americans in relation to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be stopped. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has confirmed that payments will be stopped immediately. While there is no direct impact to employers at this time, UBA will continue to educate employers about changes in the law and its Health Plan Survey will continue to track group health plan rates over time as insurance companies potentially seek to recoup lost revenue. It is anticipated at least some state attorneys general will file lawsuits to block the ending of the subsidy payments, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stating he is prepared to file a lawsuit to protect the subsidies.
Individuals with household modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) in excess of 100 percent but not exceeding 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) may be eligible for cost-sharing reductions for coverage purchased through health insurance exchanges if they meet a variety of criteria. Cost-sharing reductions are limited to coverage months for which the individual is allowed a premium tax credit. Eligibility for cost-sharing reductions is based on the tax year for which advanced eligibility determinations are made by HHS, rather than the tax year for which premium credits are allowed. In 2015, cost-sharing subsides reduced out-of-pocket (OOP) limits:
Less than 100 percent but not exceeding 200 percent of FPL: OOP limits reduced by two-thirds
Greater than 200 percent but not exceeding 300 percent of FPL: OOP limits reduced by one-half
Greater than 300 percent but not exceeding 400 percent of FPL: OOP limits reduced by one-third
After 2015, the base percentages were shifted based on a percentage of average per capita health insurance premium increases. The cost-sharing reduction is paid directly to the insurer, and is automatically applied when eligible individuals enroll in a silver plan on the Marketplace or Exchange.
The cost-sharing reduction is not the same as the “advance premium tax credit” which is also available to individuals with household modified AGIs of at least 100 percent and not exceeding 400 percent of the FPL.