Study: Obamacare Employer Mandate Will Disproportionately Hurt Low-Wage Workers

Obamacare’s twice-delayed employer mandate will hit low-wage workers the hardest, according to a study released Friday.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute released a report examining the effects of repealing the employer mandate or moving ahead. The employer mandate peg of the health care law will barely affect the uninsured rate, researchers found.

“Employers with 50 or more workers not offering coverage pre-ACA are the same employers that are highly likely to not offer in the future, therefore incurring the ACA’s penalties. Because the nonoffering firms are much more likely to be firms dominated by low-wage workers, low-wage employees will bear the greatest brunt of the penalties imposed,” the study found.

The study acknowledges an argument often advanced by both conservatives and businesses that hiring will likely be stunted by the arbitrary cut-offs in the mandate, imposing different requirements and starting dates for companies employing with below 50, 50-99, and 100-plus workers.

But the federal government expects to gain billions in penalty payments from companies that choose not to obey the mandate in the end. These costs “are likely to be passed back to the workers in the form of reduced wages,” particularly low-wage employees.