First the old news: Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with at least 50 employees (or full-time equivalents) are required to provide health benefits and pay for a good portion of the cost.
And many smaller employers that aren't required to offer health coverage do so anyway. Why? They may do it to compete successfully for talented employees in today's low unemployment environment or out of genuine concern for the well-being of their workers. What few employers like, however, is being in the time-consuming and complex business of selecting and administering health plans.
And here's the new news: That employer sentiment is why many may be tempted by a radical liberalization of regulations governing health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which kicks in next year. Chances are many employers will need some time to digest the 500-plus pages of new HRA rules, so they won't make any big changes immediately. But it's a good idea to be prepared for changes in buying individual health coverage.