|By Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The online insurance exchange, the marketplace that is a cornerstone of federal health care reform, starts
The fear, pushed by premium prices expected to rise higher and faster, is that employers will decide they can save money by dropping their insurance and absorbing the
But they are intrigued by a provision of the law that means they would be exempt from penalties for their first 30 employees. If they dropped their insurance and sent employees to the new insurance market -- the health benefit exchange -- they would have to pay fines for only 50 of their workers.
"We do have to take a look at different options," said the company's human resources director,
There will be sticker shock come
But if employers drop coverage, they'll have to pay the fines. They'll lose the tax write-off that comes with providing insurance. An employee who doesn't qualify for subsidies could end up paying more because their premiums won't be sheltered from taxes.
It means workers will expect more money to cover the dropped benefit.
"He's going to go back to his employer and say I need a raise. I can't afford my premium," Rosen said. "It's very, very shortsighted for an employer to drop that coverage. It very well may cost them more money in the long run. Number two, it's just going to alienate their employees."
Some companies are considering other options.
Other employers are limiting their work weeks to 29 hours so workers will be defined as part time. Some companies are considering offering increased pay to help their employees shoulder the burden of insurance.
"I have heard some employers say 'Can I just drop my health insurance and just give them