Posted February 10, 2014
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in January was met with speculation and predictions on consumer responses. Although the ACA is being introduced in stages, starting first with the individual mandate, a few trends have emerged.
Part-time workers and retirees lose health benefits
In the fall of 2013, anticipating the implementation of the ACA, many businesses dropped insurance coverage for part-time and retired employees. Employers feel that these employees have many new options to obtain health care coverage through the public and private exchange marketplaces being created as a result of the ACA. Although many in this group will receive a stipend to use toward purchase of insurance coverage, there are concerns that taxpayers will incur a burden from this additional, unexpected expense.
Increases in workers opting for employer coverage
As of Fall 2013, at least 170 million Americans reported having health insurance through their employer. With the launch of the ACA, employers have noted an increase in the number of full-time workers previously not enrolled in their plans, now taking advantage of employee insurance benefits.
According to Forbes magazine, these workers believe they would receive better health coverage, and at a lower cost, through employer plans than if they purchased coverage through the public exchange marketplace. Previously, at least 22 percent of employees eligible to purchase plans through their employer waived coverage because they either did not want insurance or were covered under another plan, such as through their spouse or parents.
Financial penalty a disincentive
Business analysts suggest the $95 penalty for not signing up for health insurance during the first year is not a sufficient penalty to encourage people without insurance to purchase coverage. Many view this amount a cheaper alternative to paying a monthly premium, especially weighed against other budget commitments, such as monthly payments for a student loan, vehicle or house.
Next on the horizon
In 2015, the ACA requires employers with 50 or more employees who work at least 30 hours weekly to offer health insurance. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $3,000 per employee.
To learn more about the ACA, visit our Affordable Care Act section.