Do you remember Aesop’s fable about the ant and the grasshopper? Well, to paraphrase, it tells of an ant who worked very hard in the summer, when food was plentiful, to store up food for the winter, which everyone knew was coming. The Grasshopper, on the other hand, who also had plenty of food and wasn’t hungry at all, couldn’t be bothered. Sure enough, winter came and the ant had plenty of food, while the grasshopper was cold and starving.

The recent Supreme Court ruling came as a surprise to a number of people, maybe even most people. However, even among those who expected all or some part of the law to be overturned, about half of them, according to a survey of 4,000 employers by Mercer, were ants, in that they had already started to make preparations for the requirements of the law in 2014. But there were still quite a few grasshoppers who, perhaps through wishful thinking, expected the law to be overturned and had made no preparations at all.

Now that we have the Court ruling behind us, all attention is focusing on the November elections, and diehard grasshoppers have yet another reason to be in denial. But beware! PPACA can’t be overturned by Executive Order — as appealing as that might sound on the campaign trail — and the legislative process to change or repeal it is liable to be neither quick nor easy.

Regardless of how you feel about PPACA, it is the law. And unless and until we know any different, the ants among us will be taking steps to maximize the programs they sponsor or work with and mitigating their exposure to any possible penalties. Because we all know that once November comes, winter won’t be far behind.

And you don’t want to be a Grasshopper.

Lane is principal at Mercer in Washington, DC. He can be reached at or 202-331-5222.


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