In fact, I believe the drive to reduce health benefit costs is one of the major causes of employee outsourcing. Initially, this outsourcing was done in major corporations by hiring a significant portions of their staff through body shop consulting companies that offered only limited benefits. Eventually, they then moved to outsourcing those functions offshore to cut costs further. Companies like Microsoft, Oracle, AT&T, etc., moved substantial portions of their information technology staff (10-30%) offshore while an additional 5-10% remained as hourly consultants receiving few or no benefits.
Based on continuation and acceleration of these trends, i expect that we will see employer health benefits eliminated or severely reduced over the next decade to the extent that less than half of the population will receive benefits through their employers. Those dropped from coverage will be those with the lowest incomes and most will join the ranks of the uninsured. Of course, that's probably a good thing since, according to the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, helping these people simply encourages them to reproduce.
Establishing a health coverage mandate with employer penalties for failing to provide coverage will not accelerate this trend. Effectively, the cost of the penalties reduces the economic benefit of terminating coverage. With a lower benefit, fewer companies will implement the change -- that is simple economics. However, I reiterate that I believe employers must get out of the health care business completely. Let everyone buy their own benefits with or without some level of public subsidy. From a policy perspective, I would actually prefer to have health insurance excluded altogether as an allowable business expense.