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6 surprise consequences of health insurance reform

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Big employers may offer bare-bones coverage
Big employers may offer bare-bones coverage © 06photo/Shutterstock.com

Large companies with many low-income and currently uninsured workers, such as restaurant chains and retailers, are flirting with offering a barely qualifying version of barely there "mini-med" health coverage to sidestep Obamacare's $2,000-$3,000 per-employee penalty for failing to offer qualifying coverage.

That "employer mandate" was to take effect Jan. 1 but has been delayed until 2015.

Incorporating so-called skinny coverage that may not take care of X-rays, surgery or maternity care is just one of several cost-cutting options that large employers are exploring to offset the additional expenses of health reform.

Tracy Watts, national health care reform leader at Mercer, a global research and consulting firm, says the goal for these employers is to design a bare-bones plan that costs them less than the penalty for not offering coverage and doesn't appear too enticing to those who currently opt out of coverage or insure through their spouse.

"The question is, how many people would have to enroll before you would spend as much as you would on the $2,000 penalty, and do you think that many people would enroll?" she says.

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