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Mercer: Obamacare delay doesn’t solve many problems

James Ritchie
Staff Reporter- Cincinnati Business Courier

Many employers welcomed a partial Obamacare delay, hoping the reprieve would save them money or at least let them figure out how to comply. But it’s not time to relax, according to the human resources and financial services consulting firm Mercer.

Most employers can still expect reform to add at least 2 percent to 3 percent to their costs in 2014, according to the New York-based Mercer. The increase will arise from new fees, plan design changes and higher enrollment because of the individual mandate.

The cost increases will come even if employers table plans to comply with the law by extending coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours per week.

“The delay will give employers more time to cope with some of the requirements,” Julio Portalatin, CEO of Mercer, said in a press release, “but they know it’s no free pass.”

The Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more workers to make coverage available to their workers or face a penalty. The mandate was scheduled to begin in 2014.

But the government announced this month that it would wait until 2015 to implement the measure.

However, “It was quite evident that many employers weren’t going to be ready for it,” Craig Brammer, CEO of the Health Collaborative and two other Cincinnati health care nonprofits, told me. “And the roll-out hit complexity in Washington as well.”

According to a recent Mercer survey, about a third of employers currently do not extend coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours per week. Many of them had made plans to do so in 2014.

Ritchie covers Procter & Gamble Co. and health care



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