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Bipartisan bill introduced to repeal $2,000 deductible limit on small-group health plans

On August 02, 2013 Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY-23) and Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the $2,000 deductible limit on small-group health insurance plans under PPACA. The $2,000 deductible limit for small-group plans was an amendment to the health reform law offered and accepted by the Senate Finance Committee for largely political considerations back in 2009, and it really does not harmonize well with other provisions of the bill. Because Congress did not conference the legislation, this quirky provision is now law. The Administration has acknowledged the difficulty for employers as well as health plans to create and offer a viable plan with the deducible limit when paired with a high-deductible plan. HHS, in its regulation, recognizes this problem to meet the actuarial requirement for a Bronze-level plan, for example, by offering plans an undefined waiver at plan request.

However, employers need more certainty, as do the plans. Employers rely on these high-deductible plan designs to reduce their premium outlays and often buy down some of the deductible through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement. Plan development and design takes time and resources, so carriers need certainty that their plans will be approved and meet the requirements of the law. It is believed that the repeal could be a cost saver, according to some outside actuarial and economic analysis.