Tuesday’s news that one of the central features of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is being delayed struck with the power of a lightning bolt.
But in reality, the practical effects of the postponement are much smaller than the symbolic ones.
At issue is the so-called “employer mandate.” It requires that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide a minimum standard of health care coverage or face penalties.
(Read More: The Winners and Losers in Obamacare Delay)
The Obama administration said Tuesday night businesses needed more time to adapt to the changes, and the government needs more time to simplify reporting requirements.
What this means is that people who thought their company would have to supply insurance next year must now wait at least another year.
The number of people affected by the delay is relatively small. Most businesses—97 percent—are too small to be hit, and most large employers already supply coverage.
What’s unclear is how, if at all, the individual mandate will be affected. That requires most taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. Stand by on that one.
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