A Congressional Budget Office report estimates that within the next 10 years, about 7 million people will lose health care coverage from their employers. The economic outlook issued this week varied from the CBO’s prediction last August that 4 million people would lose their employers’ health insurance. The CBO says the largest factor for the change is the reduction in “tax benefits associated with health insurance provided by employers” due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“We, as consultants, have seen an uptick recently in terms of employers asking, ‘What’s required  of us and when do I have to adhere to them? And by the way, tell me what the financial impact of health care reform is,’” says Jim Blaney, CEO of the human capital practice at Willis North America. “Employers are playing catch up right now.” 

He adds that this is job security for brokerages. The sooner a broker can anticipate a client’s questions on PPACA compliance, especially financial ones, and provide simple and concise answers, the better. 

But what will the broker landscape look like 10 years from now? “No one really knows,” says Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist behind the Massachusetts health care law that became a blueprint for the federal one. “People will always need advice and help in complying with the health law and there’s going to be a market for who can play that role,” he says. 

The CBO report also says that the higher amount of people not covered by employer-based health care is also due to “revisions to CBO’s projections of income over time and higher projections of employment-based coverage in the absence of the Affordable Care Act.” 

None of this is surprising to Blaney. “Frankly, what we’re seeing more employers do is to accommodate and comply with the law, but try to limit the number of employees on their plan,” he says. “They may create more opportunities for people who want to opt-out.” 

Stay tuned for a full interview with Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and health reform innovator, in the Newsmakers section of our March issue.

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