02 August 2017
Reporter: Becky Butcher

Coverage for pre-existing conditions tops healthcare reform concerns

Retaining insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions is the most vital feature of successful long-term healthcare reform, according to a survey by KeyBank.

The survey, which questioned 300 US middle-market business leaders in early June, focused on healthcare and the uncertainty over how proposed regulations might affect businesses in the coming months.

Although President Donald Trump and the Republicans plan to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is unclear what the replacement will ultimately look like.

The KeyBank survey found that more than 90 percent of those participants identified pre-existing coverage as being a somewhat or extremely important factor in long-term healthcare reform.

Second on the list, 84 percent of those surveyed suggested they would consider eliminating annual or lifetime limits on most health plan coverages, while 82 percent consider essential health benefit provisions and expanded Medicare preventive coverage to be somewhat or extremely important.

Jim Fasone, national healthcare practice leader for Key Insurance & Benefits, which offers commercial insurance, captive insurance, employee benefits, personal insurance and third-party administration services, said: “Employers know what matters most for their people, so it's not surprising to see pre-existing conditions and the other factors characterised as essential elements for long-term success.”

“Regardless what happens to the law, we're looking for businesses to shift even more focus on maintaining strong employee benefit programmes. While healthcare reform remains on the horizon, business leaders are putting themselves in a better position to manage change and the risks change to their employee benefits.”

At the time of the survey, healthcare reform focused on the differences between the Affordable Care Act and the proposed American Health Care Act.

Of those surveyed, 42 percent indicated they strongly approve the proposed plan, while 41 percent said they strongly disapprove the proposed plan.

However, it also revealed middle market leaders surveyed are united on one front—retaining and attracting top talent.

According to survey results, those middle-market business leaders looking to expand operations will do so by adding employees rather than acquiring other businesses, adding facilities or buying equipment.

Fasone said: “Middle market business leaders are caught in a squeeze play between employee priorities, healthcare costs and regulatory uncertainty.”

"But you can't manage your business through market swings. You have to manage your business through constant risk mitigation strategies, regardless of the final outcome of this legislation."

Trump and anti-ACA politicians failed with a ‘skinny repeal’ in late July, marking seven years since Republicans vowed to dismantle President Barack Obama’s flagship reform.

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