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Connecticut Insurance Law Journal




The fate of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain. Moreover, the nation is in an unusual state of political turmoil and may have no appetite for anything other than revolutionary changes to the ACA, if not its outright repeal. But press reports suggest even Republican officials formerly committed to its extirpation are now thinking instead about a measured path forward.

In any event, one fact about the ACA should not escape the attention of serious reformers: the legislation has already accomplished the difficult task of laying the ground work for a move away from employment-based (EB) insurance, a move scholars have urged for years. That said, not all features of employment-based insurance are undesirable, and certain reforms to the ACA could preserve those salutary features while nonetheless guiding the nation away from a flawed system.

For largely (but not entirely) political reasons, the ACA made it difficult for those receiving or providing EB insurance to migrate to the individual exchanges the Act took great pains to create. Yet if there is political will to modify the employer mandate and adjust the tax treatment of insurance purchases, access to the individual exchanges could be cautiously “unlocked,” and millions could migrate from EB insurance to individual, exchange-based insurance. With certain additional reforms, there is reason to believe that migration will lead to stronger, healthier exchanges; to a reduced regulatory burden on employers; to a clearer stakeholder understanding of the relationship between health insurance and wages; and perhaps a diminished need to rely on the controversial individual mandate, with individual states making that final assessment.

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University of Connecticut School of Law

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