You've got fail—at blaming Obamacare.
In a whirlwind of bad press, AOL Chief Tim Armstrong last week was outed as having changed the company's 401(k) contribution system in a way that would leave some employees with less money.
In an interview on CNBC, he cited costs related to the Affordable Care Act. Later, he told employees that two difficult births had jacked up AOL's health-care costs. In the firestorm that followed, AOL reversed course and restored the previous 401(k) match.
But left hanging was Armstrong's claim that Obamacare cost AOL so much money—$7.1 million, according to the CEO—that the company had to rejigger its retirement account matching fund, making contributions in a lump sum at the end of each year to offset the hit to its bottom line.
A number of health-benefits experts were deeply curious about how ACA compliance could result in such costs for AOL or any other large company that already operates a self-funding insurance plan or buys group coverage.
After Armstrong decided to revert to matching contributions each pay period, several experts again scoffed at the idea that ACA rules could make a big enough dent in AOL's finances to spur such a dramatic move.
(Read more: AOL's Armstrong axes controversial 401(K) policy)
"That's the silliest thing I've ever heard of," said Timothy Jost, professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, and author of the textbook "Health Law."
Though the ACA contains several per-employee fees for large companies that could increase costs somewhat, he was incredulous that they could be even close to what Armstrong had claimed.
"This strikes me as a totally bogus explanation," he said. "Everything that goes wrong with any business in the economy now is going to blamed on the Affordable Care Act."