Mark Caserta: Obamacare starts to have an impact
As the tentacles of Obamacare begin lurking their way into the lives of more Americans, many families are now having to work harder to make ends meet.
While the employer mandate portion of The Affordable Care Act has been suspended until 2015 due to poor planning by the Obama administration, both employers and "employees" are finding themselves having to make adjustments now to survive its looming impact.
Under the new health care law, if an employer has at least 50 full-time employees (30 hours or more), they're required to provide their workers healthcare or pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service.
Employers everywhere already have begun reducing their workforce below the 50 full-time employee mark to avoid the mandate.
Businesses already below 50 employees won't dare consider adding to their workforce, fearing irreparable damage to their income statements.
Granted, some larger companies will succumb to the proviso of the employer mandate and provide insurance to their employees. They'll simply increase their costs of goods and services to the consumer.
On the employee side, many are finding themselves laid off as a result of employer cutbacks and are now unable to find a full-time job. Subsequently, they're forced into working two or more part-time jobs simply to earn a living.
And since Barack Obama showed no mercy on Americans by delaying the individual mandate of his health care program, these workers will be forced into purchasing health care coverage or end up paying their own penalty to the IRS.
Two weeks ago, my family and I were dining at a casual-theme restaurant in Tennessee. I was intrigued by our waitress, Lisa, an exuberant gal with an eye for detail and a contagious smile.
As her table workload subsided, I decided to engage her in brief conversation hoping to learn more about her job and family.
She explained that both she and her husband worked and rarely saw each other. She sighed slightly as she explained she was currently holding down three jobs as a server. The smile returned, however, as she spoke of their only child -- a 5 year-old son with a mild form of multiple sclerosis.
I was smitten with admiration! Here was a family determined to persevere despite the additional hardship of caring for their handicapped son.
"What do you do for health care coverage?" I asked.
She explained they didn't have any coverage and that since her employers kept her hours below full time, she didn't expect to be seeing any soon.
My heart was melting. "What are you planning to do?" I asked.
"Ah, we're doing just fine," she said. "We just plan to pay the penalty. It's cheaper."
"How much will that be?" I asked.
"Around $1,500 a year," she said and hurried off to check on another table.
The price Barack Obama is willing to pay for his "signature" piece of legislation won't be paid by the government or by businesses.
Families like Lisa's and consumers will foot the bill.
And many will be none the better for it.
Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.