Q&A with Wayne Pettigrew
Unintended hiring consequences
may come from new health law
Q: I understand that health care reform mandates, which take effect Jan. 1, inadvertently could make certain candidates more favorable for hiring?
A: Yes, because of expanded coverage for dependent children, and certain mandate exemptions for Medicare, veterans and tribal members, employers may lean toward hiring those candidates. Though employers legally can't discriminate based on age or other demographics, they may lean toward applicants they know are likely to be covered elsewhere such as on their parents' health care plans, under Medicare or have existing tribal or veteran's benefits. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) now extends coverage to age 26 for dependent children coverage and the individual mandate provides exemptions for individuals covered under Medicare, tribal coverage or veteran's health care.
Q: How would this save an employer on benefits costs?
A: Individuals covered under other their parents coverage or on Medicare, tribal or veteran's benefits aren't likely to enroll in an employer's health plan, but still count toward participation requirements. So they count as a covered employee without the employer having to pay toward the cost of providing benefits for them.
Q: Will the individual mandate under the ACA force those without coverage to enroll in health care plans?
A: The law provides for a new tax beginning in 2014 for those without minimum essential coverage called a “shared responsibility payment.” This new tax is the greater of $95 or 1 percent of income in 2014, $325 or 2 percent of income in 2015 and $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016. However, the ACA also provides exemptions to this mandate for those who are below the income tax filing threshold, those who would have to pay more than 8 percent of household income for coverage or those ineligible for Medicaid because their state did not expand Medicaid. Many believe that without the hammer of the individual mandate many of these individuals who comprise much of the state's uninsured population will not obtain coverage.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER