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We recently shared the latest news regarding the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and its guide for a federally governed public option health insurance plan. The design is still a hot topic for discussion in Congress. But the concept is gaining popularity and traction as the conversations explore new proposals. The short-term benefits impact consumers seeking affordable healthcare. This traction will also translate to good news for Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs).

Ongoing Traction with the CBO

The CBO analysts point to pivotal questions that require answers before public options can become a reality. We highlighted these before in our previous discussion. However, they also offer relevancy in terms of ongoing traction in Congress. The sentiments are favorable, indicating we’re incrementally closer to seeing considerable proposals.

The Questions Inspiring New Proposals

Before a public option proposal can be considered, the CBO suggests certain questions be addressed. Released as part of its official guide, the CBO notes policymakers review insurance regulations, metal tiers, rates, and provider participation requirements. It’s this line of questioning that continues to drive the congressional conversations toward introducing legislation.

Health Insurance Simulation Models

The CBO offered health insurance simulation models to help analyze coverage realities to inspire improvements. The HISIM2, for example, was used in 2019 to develop health insurance coverage projections. The CBO also offers reports, like the Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65 it compiled with data reflective of coverage data from 2015 through 2018. These reports, models, and analytics are essential tools used by the current policymakers as they look for ACA and health insurance innovations, like a potential public offering.

The Roadmap for Continued Pursuit of a Public Option

This recently released guide is just the next phase in conversation. But it also moves the ball even further down the court in terms of potential adoption of a public option offering. These CBO tools help incorporate new data in these early processes. It will also help lawmakers review the next steps through a lens of improving consumer access to health insurance plans. While there is some opposition to the public option, it’s clear, these simulations and roadmaps provided by the CBO are gaining traction.

A New Need and Growing Popularity of the Public Option

A public option for health insurance would essentially reform the current insurance ecosystem to allow individuals to choose publicly managed plans instead of being restricted to only private insurance providers. And this method of securing coverage is becoming more popular among consumers, businesses, and lawmakers, alike.

More Consumers Embrace the Idea

This isn’t the first time a public offering for health insurance has come up in conversation. And the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has tracked the consumer support of such an idea over the years. Since 2009 alone, consumer support is up 12 percent. Americans who strongly agree with the need for a public option environment overshadows the number of those who oppose it. Today, more than 40 percent of those surveyed think a public offering is a good thing. And it may lead to better health insurance equity, a disparagement that has plagued the industry for far too long.

Businesses Are Seeking Better Options

The devastating effects of COVID-19 on the business segment are leading companies to explore more affordable and flexible solutions to their health insurance problems, including with ICHRAs. The rising cost of group plan premiums is more than many small businesses can bear. And even the larger companies can’t reconcile some of the surges in costs across their broader pools of employees.

Insurance Companies

While the benefits of a public option, including cost savings at the individual and family level, continue to inspire conversations, even insurance companies can tap into advantages. A public option would allow even private health insurance providers to continue to compete. The platform would be conducive to greater competitive markets for those willing to engage. Opportunities might look different than they do today. However, new opportunities would surely arise from a public option-style environment.

Why It’s Good News for ICHRAs

The Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA) has grown in popularity in recent months for a number of reasons. The platform allows organizations of all kinds and sizes to offer employee reimbursements for out-of-pocket healthcare costs in lieu of those expensive private insurance plans. Employees appreciate taking control of their own coverage options, as well as recouping exact expenses. And should the CBO conversation about public options continue to gain traction, ICHRAs will only grow even more popular.

Businesses Finding Flexible Benefits Options with ICHRA

Companies are exploring better solutions with the ICHRA model. They can customize reimbursements to fit today’s tighter budgets. The ICHRA allows for greater flexibility, too, when it comes to providing reimbursement benefits to various types of employees.

Employees Leveraging More Affordable Plans

Taking back control of their health insurance coverage, employees are recognizing the many benefits of the ICHRA. To be eligible for reimbursements, staff members are required to enroll in their own insurance products and typically do so via the ACA Marketplace. This allows each employee to shop and enroll in a plan that meets precise healthcare needs and household budgets. It also means any prescriptions, copays, and in some cases, monthly premiums can be reimbursed.

A Public Option Means Better Selections

With the CBO guidance and growing support of public options, it spells out good news for ICHRAs. Should a public option healthcare system become a reality, it would only provide even more affordable health insurance options to those participating in ICHRAs. And it would likely drive further adoption of ICHRAs by organizations seeking better solutions for their employees.

As experts in all things health insurance, W3LL continues to keep an eye on the progress and ongoing conversations surrounding CBO guidance, public option proposals, and ICHRAs. If you’re a business leader looking for a better way to offer benefits, let’s connect! W3LL has helped countless organizations find affordable and flexible solutions with ICHRAs. And as a partner in your efforts, you’ll know you have a reliable voice to help you stay ahead of changes, innovations, and regulations to come.


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