Employer mandate too complicated to work

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate is complicated and problematic, prompting calls for its repeal and replacement.

"One provision of the ACA that cries out for repair is the employer mandate," Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington & Lee University, wrote in a Health Affairs blog post. "Repeal of the employer mandate might, in fact, not be such a bad idea, as long as the current mandate was replaced with a better alternative."

The problem, he says, with the employer mandate is it's a "pretty burdensome operation" between determining large and small employers and what type of employees are full or part time. "What are we getting out of all the time and resources being invested in this?" Jost said in an interview with Vox.

The mandate's complications have led the Obama administration to delay its implementation two times since 2013. The most recent postponement was in January, when the Obama administration gave mid-sized companies a reprieve until 2016 to provide employees with insurance coverage or pay penalties, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Because of the problems facing the employer mandate, Jost suggests replacing the current mandate with the original version that appeared in the House healthcare reform bill in 2009, which required employers to allocate a certain percentage of their payroll to health benefits.

"It's just a much simpler thing to administer with some very basic requirements. And it would get rid of the problem of people trying to evade the regulations," Jost told Vox.

He added that the ACA could be amended to allow employees to choose between receiving coverage through their employer or purchasing it through the health insurance exchanges. "This could greatly simplify reporting and eligibility requirements and would allow low-income individuals access to the most affordable coverage available to them," he said.

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs blog post
- see the Vox article