Requiring employers to provide health insurance or pay into a fund to do so is critical to health reform and would be good for the economy, according to several leading health policy analysts.
A so-called pay or play employer mandate is being debated in Congress. Some say it would result in employers dropping coverage and others say that many businesses cannot afford the extra cost of paying for health benefits. Jacob Hacker and Ken Jacobs, of the University of California at Berkeley, write in a new paper that pay or play would ensure the continuation of our employer-based system of coverage; help finance healthcare reform; and be an avenue to get the uninsured signed up for coverage. Hacker proposes employers provide a minimum benefit package or pay a payroll tax of between 5% and 6%.
You can reach 75% of the uninsured if you had automatic coverage through the workplace, Hacker said, excluding firms with 10 or fewer workers.
A separate report by Phillip Cryan of the University of California at Berkeley indicates that a modest payroll tax on employers would likely create new healthcare jobs, increase worker productivity and improve efficiencies in the labor market. Both reports are available at ourfuture.org.