With the employer mandate (informally, the “play or pay” provision) of Obamacare now less than a year away, some employers are undoubtedly contemplating whether or not “play or pay.”
One cannot help but ponder the infinite possibilities that attorneys and consultants are exploring right now in order to advise clients on just how to dodge Obamacare. In fact, the IRS just released a Q&A document that specifically addresses the play or pay provision, as well as a regulatory proposal that has been characterized by some as a warning to companies not to attempt to evade the play or pay requirement.
Ours is an employment-based, third party payor system. It has been since WWII-era wage increase caps gave rise to health care coverage as a benefit of employment. Health care coverage now has an employment connotation attached to it, which has evolved, at least to some extent, into an expectation — perhaps rightly so, if wages have been offset against the cost of providing coverage.
Yet even as health care has evolved to an employment-based, third party benefit and costs have gone up, certain types of jobs still are not traditionally associated with such benefits, which means there are not widely held expectations of employees receiving them.
Undoubtedly, some employers will go to extremes to dodge Obamacare. In certain circumstances, given today’s demanding environment, practically speaking this track may be understandable if only from a motive perspective.