How ACA tax could lower costs, boost outcomes

If payers pass on $100B price tag, will companies increase focus on wellness?

The Affordable Care Act's health tax, which insurers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting against, might lead to an increased emphasis on wellness and preventive care and thereby lower overall costs.

Insurers have pledged to pass on the health tax, which is estimated to cost them about $100 billion in the next 10 years, to employers and individuals. Those extra costs could actually drive companies and individual consumers to focus on staying healthy and receiving preventive care, reported NPR Shots.

America's Health Insurance Plans likens the health tax to a trickle-down sales tax. "So, like any sales tax on anything you buy, it does raise the cost of that particular service," AHIP spokesperson Clare Krusing told Shots. "So we are seeing that consumers are paying more in the form of higher premiums as the result of this tax."

And actuaries from Oliver Wyman have predicted that the tax will increase premiums by as much as 3.7 percent in 2018, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Those rising costs have led companies, including mail-order catalog company AmeriMark Direct, to shift their focus onto promoting health and wellness, including urging employees to annually check their blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, to "make them aware of some health-related challenges that they may not know about," AmeriMark President Louis Giesler told Shots.

If the preventive screenings reveal any potential health concerns, AmeriMark, which employs about 700 people, will then "put tools in their [employees'] hands, or on their computer screens, or in their mailboxes to help them better understand their situation and manage it," he added.

To learn more:
- read the NPR Shots article

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