Delay of ACA’s Employer Mandate Could Hinder Individual Mandate
Health policy experts note that the Obama administration's decision to delay the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate by one year could hamper the law's individual mandate, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
Employees Could Delay Individual Mandate Compliance, Experts Say
According to the AP/Bee, the employer mandate requires companies to report the health insurance status of their employees. However, the delay means employees in 2014 could avoid complying with the coverage requirement -- or the penalty for not obtaining coverage -- by falsely claiming they are covered.
Neil Trautwein -- top health care policy expert for the National Retail Federation -- said that the delay could "mean that enforcement is light in 2014," adding, "It illustrates the interconnectedness of the law, and the difficulty (administration officials) have in making all the pieces work, and work on schedule."
Edward Fensholt -- director of compliance services for the benefits consulting firm Lockton Companies -- said, "If Americans begin to figure out that the individual requirement is toothless for 2014 ... younger, healthier uninsured people will stay away in droves." The participation of young, healthy individuals is key to the success of the exchanges, because they help offset the high costs of covering sicker participants. If such individuals do not participate, premiums in the exchanges could spike, according to the AP/Bee.
However, an unnamed senior Treasury official said that the White House believes the issue is unlikely to result in a significant number of people skirting the ACA's requirements. He added that the administration believes few individuals will risk lying to the government, adding that people who falsify their information could face charges (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/16).
Most Small Business Unprepared for the ACA, Survey Finds
In related news, less than one-third of small businesses believe they are prepared for the ACA's regulations, according to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Hill's "RegWatch" reports.
The report -- conducted by Harris International -- surveyed 1,304 small businesses. The survey defined small firms as those with fewer than 500 employees and less than $25 million in annual revenue.
The report found that:
- 71% of small businesses believe the ACA will make them less likely to hire new employees;
- 30% feel unprepared to comply with the ACA's regulations;
- 25% feel unsure about how to comply with the ACA; and
- 24% plan to reduce hiring in order to stay below the 50-employee threshold that triggers the ACA's employer mandate (Goad, "RegWatch," The Hill, 7/16).