The 6-3 decision of the Supreme Court to preserve the Obamacare subsidies provided to eligible consumers for the purchase of health insurance is not the big deal that it seems. The subsidies never really were at risk. Once millions of Americans were given another government-provided benefit, courtesy of the taxpayers, there are few politicians — and our legislators are politicians — who are willing to take away that “free” benefit. Even the majority of Republicans in Congress were prepared to continue the subsidies if the court had struck them down. But now that’s not necessary.

The real lesson from all of this is simple. Once the subsidies started flowing, Obamacare became sacrosanct and unremovable. There will be (tragically) no full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The subsidies, necessary to support guaranteed issue of health insurance, ensure the law’s survival.

Also see: "Supreme Court upholds subsidies."

King vs. Burwell has been a silly distraction for too many. The second lesson for our industry, particularly for benefit advisers and employers, is that ACA is our reality. ACA, with its perverse incentives and unintentional consequences, will continue to warp the benefits industry. The endlessly evolving regulations and onerous paperwork burden are soon to be the new normal. So employers desperately will need the advice — and assistance — of their benefit adviser to remain compliant. Employee benefit firms better become expert in compliance matters — either through internal expertise or with an outsourced partner. And prepare to take on much of the client's compliance paperwork ... either as a value-add or as a fee-based service.

Also see: "Post-SCOTUS decision, advisers must focus on client impact."

The Supreme Court didn’t end Obamacare. Congress will never repeal it. For better or worse, ACA is here to stay. The smart benefits firms figured that out a year or two ago and are leveraging ACA to provide value to their clients and grow their business. What’s your plan?

Griswold is an agency growth consultant and author of DO or DIE: Reinventing Your Benefits Agency for Post-Reform Success. His Agency Growth Mastermind Network helps agency leaders reform-proof their firm. Reach him at (615) 656-5974,, or through

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