Evan Soltas
Jul 4, 2013

Did the Employer Mandate Matter?

Timothy Jost wrote yesterday in Health Affairs that nearly every employer large enough to be bound by the employer mandate already provides health insurance. In that sense, Jost argued, the delay of the mandate is pretty irrelevant.

"Ninety-eight percent of employers with more than 200 employees offer health insurance," he wrote, "as do 94 percent of employers with 50 to 199 employees."

Jost’s figures are accurate, but I don’t think his implication is. It's not the case that, if an employer offers health insurance to some employees, the employer necessarily offers it to all employees. So we see in statistics from the US Census Bureau:

In 2010, firms with 100 to 499 employees did not offer health insurance to 15.6 percent of them, firms with 500 to 999 employees did not offer health insurance to 12.0 percent, and firms with 1000 or more employees did not offer health insurance to 11.2 percent. That’s 10.1 million workers in total. There's probably another two million in firms with more than 50 employees.

Update (Aug. 3): I am vindicated by the Congressional Budget Office, which has just released a report on the costs of delaying the employer mandate.