Obamacare employer mandate delay surprise, what's it mean?

After today’s bombshell announcement by the Obama Administration that it is delaying the employer mandate for a year, we’re all digesting what’s next for businesses and workers.

The new health care law requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer affordable health insurance or face a penalty.

Before we dive into the fallout of the delay, let’s get some perspective. In California, more than 90 percent of these businesses already offer coverage and wouldn’t have been affected by the mandate.

Politically, though, postponing it could reignite the fierce debate about the viability of the law. But that’s for another blog.

Regardless, we still have a lot of questions about the employer mandate being delayed until 2015. Here are some we’re pondering as we wait for more developments:

Question 1: Even if business is off the hook, employees will still be required to have health insurance in 2014 under the Obamacare individual mandate. So, if workers have to wait another year to get health insurance at their job, will they turn to the state health care marketplace or exchange in the meantime?

Question 2: And if low-wage workers are without coverage at work, will more of them turn to Medi-Cal because they’ll be newly eligible under the expansion of the program through the law?

Question 3: If the government will miss out on a year of collecting penalties, how much money will be lost? Prior to the delay, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that from 2014-2023 employers would pay $140 billion in penalties.

Question 4: Will more businesses drop coverage for their employees now because they won't have to offer it until 2015 at the earliest?

Question 5: Employees have increasingly had to pay more for less coverage when it comes to health insurance. With the employer mandate that requires businesses to offer affordable insurance off the table for now, will workers have to pick up more of the tab for their coverage in the interim? 

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