So What?

The GOP is gleeful because President Obama is easing the employer mandate in Obamacare — again.

Having gotten an extension until 2015 already, businesses with 50 to 99 employees get another full year to comply.

Companies with 100 or more employees now have to cover only 70% of full-time employees in 2015, and have until 2016 to meet the original requirement of 95%.

My reaction — so what?  The GOP argues that if he’s going to allow businesses to transition, he should give the same break to people he’s giving to companies and delay the individual mandate.

Two things —  First, individuals also have a transition into the mandate.  The penalty for 2014 is only $95 (or 1% of income up to $285).  That rises to $695 (or 2.5% of income) in 2016.

Second, Obamacare needs an individual mandate to function or else people will wait until they’re sick to buy insurance.  That initial $95 penalty isn’t much of an incentive not to wait, so it’s hard to say that people are bearing some huge burden while businesses are not.  But Obamacare doesn’t need an employer mandate to function.  About 95% of large employers already offer insurance.  In fact, Massachusetts (and, as we know, Obamacare is based on Romneycare) abolished its employer mandate as of July 1, 2013.

So the Republicans get to make some political hay here.  But delaying or even cancelling the employer mandate won’t have much effect on health care.  It just gives Fox News something else to bellyache about.

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