|As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.|
Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued this month.
Brokers and consultants have been offering to save large employers money by shifting workers with expensive conditions such as hepatitis or hemophilia into insurance marketplace exchanges established by the health law, Kaiser Health News reported in May.
The Affordable Care Act requires exchange plans to accept all applicants at pre-established prices, regardless of existing illness.
Because most large employers are self-insured, moving even one high-cost worker out of the company plan could save a company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That’s far more than the $10,000 or so it might give an employee to pay for an exchange plan’s premiums.
“Rather than eliminating coverage for all employees, some employers … have considered paying high-cost claimants relatively large amounts if they will waive coverage under the employer’s plan,” Lockton Companies, a large brokerage, said in a recent memo to clients.
The trend concerns consumer advocates because it threatens to erode employer-based coverage and drive up costs and premiums in the marketplace plans, which would absorb...