Magazine article The Nation's Health

Individual Mandate More Critical to Coverage Than Employer Mandate

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Individual Mandate More Critical to Coverage Than Employer Mandate

Article excerpt

The decision to delay the Affordable Care Act's requirement that large employers offer coverage to employees will have virtually no effect on overall health insurance coverage, finds a recent report from the Urban Institute.

The July report compared full implementation of the health reform law against the effect of delaying financial penalties for large employers who choose not to provide coverage to full-time employees. Researchers found that with full implementation, the rate of uninsured Americans drops from 19.2 percent to 10.1 percent; however, without the employer mandate, also called the employer-shared responsibility provision, the uninsured rate still drops to 10.2 percent. On the other hand, the U.S. uninsured rate would fall to only 15.1 percent if the law's requirement that individuals purchase insurance were eliminated. In other words, the absence of the minimum coverage provision, also known as the individual mandate, would result in about 14 million more people going without health coverage.

In early July, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced a one-year delay before the law's employer penalties and insurance reporting requirements kick in.

Under the law, employers with at least 50 full-time staff were originally required to offer health benefits or face financial penalties as of 2014. In announcing the year-long delay, Mark Mazur, PhD, assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department, said it will allow the agency to simplify insurance reporting requirements and better adapt health insurance and reporting systems.

"Eliminating the employer mandate has very little effect on the distribution of coverage; it remains virtually identical to the case when the full ACA is in effect," stated the Urban Institute report. …

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