Who could have known? (Anyone who actually read the 1,000-plus-page bill could have. I know there are a few people in the US who did read the bill in its entirety...)
From Financial Times (2/18/2013; emphasis is mine):
US business hits out at ‘Obamacare’ costs
By Barney Jopson in New York and Alan Rappeport in Washington
US retailers and restaurants chains that employ millions of low-wage workers are considering cutting working hours or paying fines rather than enrolling employees in health insurance plans under Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law.
Employers are concerned that the law increases the cost of insuring employees on existing plans, partly by broadening the range of benefits. It also requires companies to insure some employees not previously covered.
David Dillon, chief executive of the Kroger supermarket chain, told the Financial Times that some companies might opt to pay a government-mandated penalty for not providing insurance because it was cheaper than the cost of coverage.
Nigel Travis, head of Dunkin’ Brands, said his doughnut chain was lobbying to change the definition of “full-time” employees eligible for coverage from those working at least 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week.
Some restaurants, including Wendy’s and Taco Bell franchises, have explored slashing worker hours so fewer employees qualify for health insurance, arguing that they cannot afford the additional healthcare costs. Other businesses are deliberately keeping headcounts below 50.
...“If you look through the economics of the penalty the companies pay versus the cost to provide coverage, the penalty’s too low, or the cost of coverage is too high, or the combination is wrong,” he said.
“If [policy makers] get those things too far out of balance, everybody will have to reconsider their position on that point, including us. But we’re going to wait and see how that all develops.”
The penalty for not providing coverage is $2,000 per worker. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan policy group, the average annual cost to employers of insurance is $4,664 for a single worker and $11,429 for a family.
(Full article at the link)
I sense what will happen next. The Obama government will raise the penalty, so the penalty matches or exceeds the coverage requirement. Then, bye bye 30-hour-per-week part time jobs ...