ObamaCare’s employer mandate is supposed to guarantee that every working American is able to obtain health insurance through his employer. But according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), an organization representing 350,000 small-business owners, the mandate may end up being the ruin of employer-sponsored health insurance and will almost certainly be detrimental to employers and employees alike.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees — with “full time” defined as working at least 30 hours per week — to offer “affordable” health insurance to those employees. Insurance is deemed affordable if it costs an employee no more than 9.5 percent of his total household income.
If an employee finds that his employer-sponsored insurance is unaffordable as defined by law, he may decline to participate in it and instead obtain insurance on a state insurance exchange, where, depending on his income level, his premiums may be subsidized by the government. (Having no insurance, of course, is not an option in the “land of the free”: Uninsured individuals face a tax penalty of $695 or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever is higher.) For every one of his employees who turns down “unaffordable” employer-sponsored insurance in favor of insurance on an exchange, an employer will be fined up to $3,000.
Among the many complications introduced by the PPACA, one major one, from an employer’s perspective, is that definition of affordable insurance. “Typically,” observed NFIB director of federal public policy Amanda Austin, “employers do not have access to what employees’ total household income looks like.”
How, then, will they be able to ensure that they are offering insurance that does not set their employees back more than 9.5 percent of that income? “Employers will now be forced to either snoop around employees’ household income or go in blind and hope for the best,” Austin averred.
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