Employer Insurance a Major Issue in Proposed Health Bill

The Senate Finance Committee should be prepared to vote on the new health care bill as early as next week, but by the time it reaches the voting floor, a major change may have occurred regarding employer insurance. Currently, the proposal contains no mandate requiring that employers offer coverage to their employees; however, when it’s time to vote next week, employers may have stricter coverage guidelines to contend with.

As the bill stands now, employers with 50 or more workers will have to pay a fee of up to $400 per full-time employee if they don’t offer coverage. Reportedly, this will reimburse the government for tax credits workers receive. However, Senator John Kerry has drafted an amendment to the bill. If his amendment goes through, employers would be subjected to a hefty excise tax if they don’t offer coverage.

But this is not the only bill out there. Recently, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed a bill that would require employers to offer insurance to workers and pay at least 60 percent of the premium cost to avoid paying fines. The House of Representatives also passed a bill recently that would require employers to pay at least 72.5 percent of individual premium costs and 65 percent of family premium costs.

While employees would be elated to have much of the health coverage costs given to employers, experts say that placing that much of a burden on employers could have negative results. Particularly, it could mean fewer jobs and lower wages in the long run.

But one thing is for certain, President Obama is looking for some type of mandate to require employers to cover a portion of health care premium costs. So the differences in all of the bills out there will need to be worked out before a final proposal can reach his desk.

In the meantime, those affected most by these bills – workers and their families – can only guess what type of health coverage they will be asked (or mandated) to acquire.

Do you feel that employers should be responsible for the majority of health coverage premium costs?