What has 63% of Workers Worried? Obamacare’s Employer Mandate

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As we move closer toward 2015, a sense of uneasiness is beginning to build among employees of large firms. The delayed mandate, which is slated to begin next year for businesses with 100 or more people, is causing many to worry about the future of their healthcare coverage. A recent poll released by Morning Consult reveals just how prevalent those fears are with 63% of workers being “at least somewhat concerned that their employers will end their current health insurance programs and shift workers into Obamacare exchanges instead.” [1]

The concern about being dumped into the substandard Obamacare exchange is real, and rightly so. In her article about how Obamacare is set to destroy job-based plans, Sally Pipes – President of Pacific Research Institute – points out:

“That number [who say the law isn’t working as planned] will shoot even higher if employer health insurance vanishes, as an S&P Capital IQ report predicts. The financial-research firm forecasts that 90% of Americans who now have employer-sponsored coverage will lose it by 2020 — and have to turn to government exchanges for policies.

The Obama administration has long denied that its health-reform law would cause companies to stop providing insurance. But thanks to an Obamacare-fueled increase in health costs, employer-sponsored coverage may soon become a thing of the past.

The S&P report comes three years after the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. suggested that 30% of employers would dump workers into exchanges to save money.” [2]

Ezekiel Emanuel, former health policy adviser to the Obama Administration who helped craft the Affordable Care Act, concurs with the S&P study, noting a similar projection in his book, “Reinventing American Health Care.” However, Emanuel has a more positive view on the potential seismic shift.

“Some of them [businesses] will continue. They’ll say, “A good employer provides insurance, takes care of its workers, cares about its workers, and this is one way we communicate it.” Others will say, “It’s better for my employees to drop coverage. They have freedom to decide how much they want to spend on health care. They have more choices than I can offer, and I would prefer not to spend the money, resources, time doing the insurance – I can give them the defined contribution, I’ll know what the costs are year to year – it’s very predictable.” And the exchange is a good place. People actually like it. It’s not looked at as, “Wow, they’re abandoning me.” [3]

The disastrous rollout of Obamacare and its costly, discrepancy-ridden exchange have done very little to make people feel it’s a “good place,” which explains why “51% think the quality of their coverage would drop if they were shifted into the exchanges; meanwhile, just 16% think it would improve.” [1] The alarming part is that the majority of workers – 52% – would consider finding another job if they were dumped onto the exchange.

This reaction, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs for larger employers, has caused business owners to pressure the Administration about the mandate. They’ve been successful in getting it delayed. The question is: can it be permanently shelved?

An idea that was once shunned is now gaining more traction as Democrats see the mandate as a political liability.

“Robert Gibbs’ prediction that Obamacare’s employer mandate would — and perhaps should — be jettisoned shocked Democrats back in April.

By July, the former aide and longtime confidant of President Barack Obama had a lot more company. More and more liberal activists and policy experts who help shape Democratic thinking on healthcare have concluded that penalizing businesses if they don’t offer health insurance is an unnecessary element of the Affordable Care Act that may do more harm than good.” [4]

Under Obamacare, worried employees is the new normal.