We thought auto-enrollment was long gone…

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, expected to be voted on by the House as early as today, will repeal the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring employers with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll a full-time employee in a health plan if coverage was not voluntarily chosen or declined by an employee.

“This change in the ACA will lessen the administrative and cost burden on employers, but employees, and their families, who fail to act will find themselves uninsured,” says Brian Klepper, principal with consulting firm Health Value Direct.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association welcomed the move. “Striking this redundant requirement off the books puts health decision-making back in the hands of American workers and their families, and provides employers with relief from potentially problematic and burdensome regulations,” says Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at RILA, a trade association representing more than 200 of the world’s largest retail companies, including Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Apple.

This sounds like huge news, but don’t be confused. The original 2012 provision has yet to be enforced for large employers, and if this passes, all risk of that happening goes away with it.

J.D. Piro, national practice leader with Aon Hewitt’s health and benefits legal consulting group, notes that because the IRS never issued any regulations on auto-enrollment in health plans, employers were reluctant to implement the provision. “This [provision] was gone in all but law as a practical matter,” he says. “After the last five years, nobody really expected regulations on this.” At the very least, we’ll know that this automatic enrollment won’t be expected of and enforced for large employers.