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Part-time workers have very little in the way of health coverage

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Tom Handley
Despite concerns, Minnesota sees few health insurance cost increases
Despite concerns, Minnesota sees few health insurance cost increases

The Affordable Care Act is changing the ways in which even small businesses are required to provide health insurance plans to their workers. This news may be welcome for part-time workers in particular, due in large part to the fact that relatively few have such coverage now.

The ACA mandates that companies with more than 50 employees working 30 or more hours per week must give those workers health insurance, which could potentially reverse trends part-timers have seen in the last several years, according to a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The percentage of the workforce with only part-time jobs has increased to 22.2 percent as recently as 2011, up from just 16.7 percent in 2007, and during that period, the amount of those workers covered by some sort of health insurance dropped 15.7 percent. Meanwhile, full-time workers saw declines in coverage of just 2.8 percent.

Through the end of 2011, nearly three in five full-time workers received healthcare coverage from their employers, compared with less than one in six for part-timers, the report said. However, both have been trending downward for some time, which may be a point of concern for workers of all types.

This is also especially true of part-timers because those who work fewer than 30 hours are not necessarily required to receive health insurance options from their companies, the report said. In fact, many companies, in an effort to avoid having to comply with that mandate (or else face sizable fines for every worker not covered by these plans), may soon begin scaling back hours for those working fewer than 40 per week, thereby lowering the number of people who would be above that 30-hour threshold.

Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI's Health Research and Education Program and author of the report on the ways in which part-time workers received coverage in the past, notes that the recent trends will at least give an interesting baseline against which experts will be able to measure the impact of the ACA on the ways in which employees receive health insurance from their employers across all demographics.

For their part, executives and owners of companies that would fall into the coverage mandate may want to consider the ways in which the laws will affect their bottom lines and in turn tailor specific plans to deal with those issues ahead of the ACA's coverage deadline, which goes into effect at the start of next year.

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