The Obama Administration has given a year or more reprieve to businesses with 50 or more workers from hefty new fines if they don’t provide affordable health insurance starting in 2014 due to health reform. The penalty is $2,000 per employee. 

It hasn’t been a great couple of months for health reform (for more headlines across the country, see bottom).

Now, businesses don’t have to pay that penalty, called the employer mandate tax, until 2015 or beyond if they don’t provide affordable coverage. The small business lobby won the reprieve because they argued health reform would cost 1.6 million jobs due to the new fine, extra paperwork and problems with the law.

But individuals still have to pay a mandate tax if they don’t have affordable coverage come January 1. Having fewer companies offering affordable coverage January 1 could mean more individuals would have to pay the mandate tax, or pay for more costly coverage.

You guessed it, the government defines what’s affordable coverage—the IRS is the lead agency asking you, your household and your employer about coverage versus your wages here, to determine if you owe the mandate tax. The Taxpayer Advocate has already warned Americans must now give the IRS under health reform details about their insurance plans, who is covered, the dates of coverage, insurance costs, and employer coverage. Plus, the IRS gets to share that information with state exchanges, employers, insurance companies, and others.

Taxpayers will also have to pay more to fund the state health exchanges if employers drop workers from their insurance during this one year plus reprieve, potentially sending employees towards the state health exchanges. To be sure, dozens of states haven’t launched exchanges yet, but the federal government is stepping in to launch exchanges for them. Either way, taxpayer costs rise. 

In all, it’s not been a good time for health reform lately. FOX News analyst Mark Rigby picked up these headlines across the country:

U.S. to delay key health-reform provision to 2015

Reuters, July 2

Coverage may be unaffordable for low-wage workers

Associated Press, June 13

Employers Eye Bare-Bones Health Plans Under New Law

The Wall Street Journal, May 19

Half of U.S. Small Businesses Think Health Law Bad for Them

Gallup, May 10

Part-timers to lose pay amid health act's new math

Los Angeles Times, May 2

Botched ObamaCare rollout tops Democratic fears for 2014 election

The Hill, May 1

Baucus warns of 'huge train wreck' enacting ObamaCare provisions

The Hill, April 17

ObamaCare Incompetence  

Time magazine, April 2

Small Firms’ Offer of Plan Choices Under Health Law Delayed

The New York Times, April 1

Kathleen Sebelius: ObamaCare Implementation May Cause Some Health Care Costs To Rise

Reuters, March 26

Study: Health overhaul to raise claims cost 32 pct

Associated Press, March 26, 2013

Senate backs symbolic repeal of medical device tax

Reuters, March 22

Beige Book Says ObamaCare Is Costing Jobs and Sales

Investor’s Business Daily, March 6

Elizabeth MacDonald joined FOX Business Network (FBN) as stocks editor in September 2007.
Follow Elizabeth MacDonald on Twitter @LizMacDonaldFOX.