Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy) | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Survey estimates Obamacare delay affects few workers

The statement

Says Obama administration delay of health care law's large employer mandate affects about 1 percent of the American workforce.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press

The ruling

Just how many workers does the health care law's employer mandate affect, anyway?

The Obama administration's announcement that it would delay requiring large employers to provide full-time employees with affordable coverage inflamed opponents of the law. (And dismayed some supporters, who questioned whether the president had that authority.)

But some pointed out that, in any case, the mandate wouldn't affect many folks.

"Those (companies) who are subject to the mandate, 95 percent of them already offer insurance," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. "So, we're talking about probably 1 percent of the American workforce that works for a company subject to the mandate that didn't get insurance and will be able to get it in the health exchanges that open up in October."

Are we talking about just 1 percent of the American workforce?

It turns out that "1 percent of the American workforce" is a ballpark calculation based on survey research on employees who work for large firms that don't offer insurance.

Several prominent health economists we spoke with think that's a pretty reasonable way to estimate it. But some others think it may understate the reach of the mandate by millions.

The size of the U.S. labor force, according to the government, is about 156 million.

Menendez's sources estimated the mandate affects about 1 million or 1.5 million workers — about 1 percent of 156 million.

They focused only on the likely number of employees who work for the 5 percent of large firms that don't offer insurance, based on an employer survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But what about the uninsured workers who work for companies that offer insurance?

Christopher Conover, who works for the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University, argues there are millions of workers who work for companies that offer insurance and are uninsured but may qualify under Obamacare.

He pointed to a recent example in the New York Times of a restaurant that would likely be subject to the employer mandate. The owner offers health coverage to employees, but only to nine of them.

But under the employer mandate, the restaurant owner estimates he would need to insure 22 employees. Conover argues any estimate of the number of workers affected by the mandate should include workers like the 13 restaurant employees who are currently left out because they work for a company that offers health insurance, just not to them.

Economists disagree about how common that situation really is, but overall, it remains a small sliver of the entire American workforce.

"I think the bottom line is that it is small," said Johnathan Gruber, an MIT professor who helped craft the Affordable Care Act. "Menendez may not be exactly right, but he is in the right ballpark."

As such we rate Menendez's claim Mostly True.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at

PolitiFact: Survey estimates Obamacare delay affects few workers 07/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 12, 2013 6:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  2. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH:

  3. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Charles Bradley, acclaimed Florida soul singer, dies at 68


    Acclaimed Florida R&B powerhouse Charles Bradley, whose raw, pained voice earned him the nickname the Screaming Eagle of Soul, has died of cancer at 68, his representatives announced Saturday.

    Charles Bradley performed at the 2016 Gasparilla Music Festival.
  5. Kriseman and Baker cash race continues as campaigns officially reset


    The mayoral campaign, mostly operating in stealth mode during the two weeks of Hurricane Irma's build-up, arrival and recovery, has entered its stretch run, a compressed schedule of ten days before ballots are mailed to tens of thousands of voters in the Sunshine City.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker are emerging from Hurricane Irma mode and getting back into campaign form