Should Small Employer Continue Healthcare Benefits?

As a small employer according to ACA (less than 50 employees) we have always offered medical, dental, life & LTD insurance to full time employees. With ACA and rising premiums making private group coverage quite unaffordable, our employer is strongly considering dropping the medical insurance benefit & sending our employees to the Exchange. My research reveals that dollar for dollar, the premiums are much lower through the Exchange which beckons my question. How can we make up for the 75% the employer has always covered toward the premiums? If income is the only answer, it's more complicated than it seems. Ex: Income is taxable to the employer and employee alike; the expense of an employer group plan was not. Large HSA contributions are not the answer because you can not pay premiums from your HSA. Are there any clever, out of the box tips? For example, can an employer provide an allowance for medical insurance expenses & pay the employee on a pre-tax basis for it? I doubt it..

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