HHS solution?

Would it be possible, under the proposed mandate, for an employer to a) pass through 100% of the cost of health insurance to its employees, while still purchasing the group policy so as to take advantage of group rates, and b) concomitantly raise all employees salaries by the amount that the employer was formerly paying for health insurance paid for by the employer? Would the ta code take that into account, i.e., deduct to employee for health insurance premium?

I am asking because I think that if the employees paid all the freight, there would not be the same objection to paying for contraception - - an employee who didn’t want it wouldn’t use it. Is this just shifting the objection from the employer to the employee?

It seems to me that one concern about new law is that employers who are not required to have coverage (IIRC, if employer has under 50 employees?) will just drop coverage altogether, with no pay raise to employees for (national?) health insurance premiums.

This really no different from the current counter-proposal.

It seems to me that one concern about new law is that employers who are not required to have coverage (IIRC, if employer has under 50 employees?) will just drop coverage altogether, with no pay raise to employees for (national?) health insurance premiums.

I haven’t researched it, but another possibility might be to fire everyone and hire them back as independent contractors. That way, a company of many employees gets turned into a company of zero employees.

My own ponderance was whether it would be allowed to increase the employee’s pay by the amount needed to purchase insurance on the exchange, as a separate (non-salary) amount.

The employer would then be paying for the employee’s insurance but the onus would be on the employee to purchase it. If the government levies the fine, the employer could deduct it from the insurance stipend (not salary, naturally) and the employees may then have a case against the government (by levying a fine against the employer, the employer is forced to pay the fine instead of providing employees with a stipend with which to purchase insurance).

It would still be unacceptable. It would be the same as having HHS mandate no co-pay abortion coverage for everyone. Even if the employer passed on the total cost to the employees, it would be immoral for an employer to provide it. Any employer. The government should not be able to force any employer to violate his conscience by providing immoral products or immoral insurance plans.

The exchanges may well include plans that do not contain abortion coverage, as I understand (whether they persist would depend in part on their popularity). If not, the employee should be able to setup a health-sharing plan with Samaritan Ministries or Solidarity Health Share (these are not insurance but the PPACA allows people to participate in them as a substitute for personal coverage).

So, rather than enter through the front door, is it OK to enter through the back window?

There are a number of things that make my life go better. My employer is NOT required to provide all of them to me. I need a car and car insurance. I need life insurance. I receive my pay and am free to do with it as I wish.

For the government to force my employer to provide for my personal choices seems a bit much. Especially when the employer is a religious establishment.

In the market place I can move to an employer that compensates me in ways I appreciate. And the employer gets employees who are good with the compensation that employer provides.

thanks for the responses, everyone. Just thinking out loud, if typing counts as out loud.

@sedona: I am really thinking along the lines of some of who have argued, implausibly and not persuasively to my mind, that the employee really owns the benefit, as earned through the employee’s work. My response has been, if it is the employee’s, why is the employer writing the check? I think that is pretty good evidence it is the employer’s money. I was aiming for a distinction between formal and material cooperation. Re hiring and firing, there is a well-developed body of law on who is and is not an independent contractor, and I do not think that option would work.

@soncatcher: I saw on another thread that as implemented there is a fine to the employer if the employer drops insurance and gives a bonus to allow the employee to seek an individual policy. It may be a distinction without a difference if the employer does not drop the policy, but passes through 100% of the cost.

@jim: I generally agree in principle, and was glad to see no commerce clause basis for the mandate, more or less, but am trying for the art of the possible, here. A sure result via compromise has to be better than hoping for the best from the SCOTUS, no?

@fred: agree in principle, again, I was looking to explore formal vs. material cooperation here.

Personally I think it is wrong for the Federal government to mandate what benefits any employer must cover. I wonder what the authors of the Constitution would have thought of the idea that the government must interject itself between employee and employer. To mandate something which causes the employer to violate his religion just makes it worse.

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