Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learning more about what was in the health care bill

William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection links to this story from the NYT about how a provision of the health care bill is going to make even more companies than first thought subject to tax penalties because of the health care provisions that they offer their employees.
About one-third of employers subject to major requirements of the new health care law may face tax penalties because they offer health insurance that could be considered unaffordable to some employees, a new study says.

The study, by Mercer, one of the nation’s largest employee benefit consulting concerns, is based on a survey of nearly 3,000 employers.

It suggests that a little-noticed provision of the law could affect far more employers than Congress had assumed.

In the raucous debate over health care, Democrats and Republicans focused on a provision under which employers would generally have to offer coverage to employees or pay penalties, starting in 2014.

As they study the law, employers are discovering another provision that got much less attention. If a company offers coverage but requires any full-time employees to pay premiums that amount to more than 9.5 percent of their household income, the coverage is deemed unaffordable, and the employer may have to pay a penalty.
Apparently, there are a lot more businesses than originally determined to which this provision will apply. And since such employees are then eligible for federal aid, that means that ObamaCare will cost more than originally determined.

There are several adjustments that companies could make from paying more so that employees wouldn't have to pay as high premiums or they could downgrade the health insurance they offer. Another result might be that employers could discriminate in hiring workers whose household incomes would make the company liable for the fine.

William Jacobson then has some fun with noting how many stories about the health care bill contain the phrase "little noticed."

When the push through a huge bill that has been thrown together behind closed doors with a lot of deal-making going on that few people were aware of, it is no surprise that people wouldn't "notice" some of the things inserted into the bill and how they would affect real people.