Human Capital & Careers

74% of Employers Exposed to ‘Cadillac Tax’

Rather than applying only to the most generous health plans, a survey says the tax will "weigh heavily" on most businesses.
Katie Kuehner-HebertDecember 9, 2015

A new survey challenges the conventional wisdom that only especially generous employer health plans would be subject to the Affordable Care Act‘s “Cadillac tax” provision.

Effective in 2018, the law would levy a 40% tax on health insurance plans that cost more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. In a survey released Wednesday, United Benefit Advisors said the tax could affect 74% of employers by 2022, with even the lowest quality “bronze-level” plans on the ACA exchanges at risk of triggering the levy.

“When the law was created, it was assumed that only three percent of plans would trigger the Cadillac tax, and it was marketed as a tax on ‘the rich benefits of executives,’” UBA chief executive Les McPhearson said in a news release. “The reality is that this tax will weigh heavily on a majority of American businesses that can’t afford it and will have to make severe cuts to stay above water.”

Using a 6% rate or “trend” increase, compounded each year, UBA found that by 2018, 30% of employers will be subject to the Cadillac tax; by 2020, 50%; and by 2022 the tax will hit 73.79% of employers.

“Many of these employers, even after reducing benefits and premiums, will still not be able to lower their annual costs under the Cadillac tax thresholds,” said Carol Taylor, chairwoman of the UBA Client Compliance Solutions Committee.

“The Cadillac tax hits those employers with an aging workforce, those with high claims and those in areas with high medical care costs,” she added. “They should be strategizing now, however, to mitigate liabilities as much as possible.”

Repeal or delay of the Cadillac tax is being considered in the current congressional negotiations over a government funding package. An earlier analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the tax will hit 26% of employers in 2018, jumping to 42% over the next decade.

“There is potential for changes to the law that could make it affect fewer businesses, but unless employers start planning now for the changes coming January 1, 2018, they could face devastating cost increases,” McPhearson said.