A major potential problem with Obama's healthcare bill is that it requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for every employee who works 30 hrs. or more.
Sites on the left like firedoglake opposed this early on, noting that the provision creates an incentive for businesses to simply cut employee hours, and turn their workforce into part-timers. The WPost's wonkblog had a post on this today, and though it brought up some reasons employers might not cut their workforce in some areas of the economy like high end sales, it's pretty obvious there's a massive incentive in a lot of sectors to slash worker hours.
How bad is this? It's certainly a long-term problem. Workers typically want one full-time job, not two part-time jobs, and Obamacare significantly incentivizes the latter.
What about the short-term? I'm reminded that Germany has been very successful in keeping unemployment low throughout the depression precisely by creating tax and other incentives for its firms to reduce hours rather than fire workers. In the short-term, Obamacare might recreate that situation, and spread out the effects of an aggregate demand shortfall across the population rather than dispropionately localize the bad effects on the US's unemployed.
One component that Germany has which the US is missing, however, is that unemployment insurance in Germany will cover hour cuts. If you lose 8 hrs. in your work-week in Deutschland, you get 1/5th of a week's unemployment insurance. The combination of partial unemployment insurance and incentives to not fire workers is likely the central reason behind Germany's extremely low unemployment rate and indeed a central reason behind its stellar economic record compared to the rest of the Eurozone.
The US in contrast has a patchwork system across only 20 states of differing levels of partial unemployment insurance, so mostly the hour cuts from Obamacare aren't going to be offset. The best we have to hope for is that companies who cut back full-time workers to make them part-time will hire more part-time workers to fill in the gaps.
This problem will not be fixed by our current crop of politicians. There's an outside chance it could get fixed if 2016 is a Democratic wave election, but that's a long shot.
Republicans might attempt to spin this as showing why the government shouldn't be interfering in the health care markets and creating distorted incentives. What it actually shows is that Obamacare is poorly designed in many ways and the left was cut off from fixing it.
First, the entire Obamacare contraption was unnecessarily complicated and should've been scrapped for an expansion of public insurance, which wouldn't have had this problem.
Second, many progressives at the time Obamacare was being put together, from thinkprogress to firedoglake and elsewhere, had a solution w/in the Obamacare framework. They pt.ed out that Obamacare shouldn't have had a 30hr. cut-off for providing healthcare, but instead a proportional system whereby employer contributions to healthcare coverage would mirror the number of hours worked. So if a large company cuts one of its workers hours to 25, that company would still have to pay the bulk of that worker's healthcare, as well as a proportion of the health care costs of any part-time worker the company might hire to fill in the gap. Thus, no incentive to turn the workforce into part-timers.
That sounds like a solution to me coming from the same place that pretty much all the best solutions to the country's problems can be found - the left.