Kansas State University


Issues in Health Reform

Category: ACA and workers

Will the Affordable Care Act lead to more part time workers?

Interesting reflection on this topic in Washington Post blog.  Survey suggests that perhaps 4% of employers with more than 50 FTE are decreasing workers’ hours to avoid fines if they don’t provide health insurance.  The rest appear to value a higher skilled workforce and need to be attentive to customer satisfaction so that sending workers home mid shift while clients still need services may serve as sufficient deterrent.  It’s curious that some of the largest employers to already impose these cutbacks in workers’ hours are school districts and other county services across the country.

Part-time Workers and the Affordable Care Act

part-time, full time

(photo courtesy of Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Consumer Reports recently published an article by Nancy Metcalf responding to the question “Will health reform help part-time workers get insurance?”  Here’s a summary of her response:

Though figuring out their access to insurance may not be as simple and straightforward as it is for a full-time employee, part-time or seasonal employees will have access insurance one way or the other, through their employer or through the Marketplace.  Here’s how employers will decide their employee’s eligibility for their insurance: The employer chooses a measurement period (three months to one year) to identify the average number of hours worked by the employee.  If the employee averages 30+ hours per week during that period, he/she will be eligible for the employer-sponsored insurance (ESI).  If the employee averages less than 30 hours/week, he/she will be referred to the Marketplace to access coverage.  The employee will have that coverage for the designated measurement period (three months to one year). After that initial measurement period, the employer will repeat the same process to re-evaluate the employee’s average hours for the next measurement period.  Depending upon the average hours worked, the employee may maintain their current coverage or have to switch.

Here’s an example:

Employer ABC defines the first measurement period from January through June of 2013.  During that time, Shondra averages well over 30 hours a week and is therefore eligible for ABC’s insurance.  During the second measurement period, July through December, Shondra averages only 27 hours per week.  The employer will notify Shondra she is no longer eligible for the ESI, and she will then have to access the Marketplace to shop for a new plan.  Though Shondra may be eligible for tax subsidies to purchase new insurance, the plan’s cost and coverage may be different than the one offered through her employer.

The above example demonstrates that this process may get confusing for part-time employees. Metcalf advises individuals who worry they may be in this situation to connect with their employer and discuss the details.

(Thanks to ckfwi.org for post.)