Waldron Private Wealth has consistently offered provider health insurance coverage to its 35 employees, but premiums increased 20 percent in 2014 and 40 percent in 2015 after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted.
“We had the option of switching to an ACA plan, but found that the non-ACA plan we were using prior to ACA was more affordable,” says Michael E. Krol, Waldron’s chief financial officer.
Employees of the Bridgeville, Pa., firm, which has $1.3 billion in assets under management, were not responsible for copayments or deductibles until just last year. Now they pay a $500 deductible for family health insurance coverage and $250 for individual coverage.
“ACA has created an increase in internal work for us and new costs to navigate through all of this,” Krol says. “We are spending hours and hours trying to understand what’s going on and to develop creative solutions so that our employees don’t feel the brunt of this huge health-care cost increase.”
The health-care law requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to offer a group plan. Employers with one or two employees can offer whatever they want. Employers with three to 50 full-time employees can opt for group plans but consider a “Healthcare Reimbursement Plan,” which is similar to a business expense account for personal health insurance.
“All of our clients are grumbling,” says Angel Hower, ACA product lead with Businessolver, a third-party benefits administrator that services small businesses with between a few hundred and 150,000 employees. “New regulations are impeding larger organizations and what health insurance they offer and how they offer it.”
Waldron Private Wealth is among a rising number of financial advisory firms nationwide that have had to change their employee benefits structure as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
One way advisory firms are coping with the increase in cost for covered health care is by opting for a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), which offers lower premiums but requires the payment of higher deductibles.
“Small businesses like advisory firms are choosing HDHP coverage because it helps keep the cost of premiums down and to ensure that the company is offering the required coverage,” Hower says. “It’s the route that a lot of employers are taking in order to offer the bare minimum of coverage.”
The amount of administrative work for many financial advisory firms has also been on the rise since March 23, 2010, when President Obama signed the ACA into law.