More Part-time Workers Lack Health Coverage

In the wake of the economic recession, the number of part-time workers who lack health insurance is increasing, according to new research from EBRI.

Full-time workers are far more likely than part-time workers to be offered a health insurance benefit from their employers, which in turn affects how many are actually enrolled. In 2010, 60.1 percent of full-time workers had coverage from their own job, while 16.8 percent of part-time workers had such coverage.

Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the report, said the data provide an important baseline to measure changes once a key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) takes effect in 2014. The law will require that employers with 50 or more full-time workers failing to provide health coverage to full-time workers in 2014 will be required to pay a penalty. While many employers already offer health coverage, there are other provisions of PPACA that are expected to increase the cost of coverage.

“Because of PPACA, there is concern that employers may respond by cutting back on health coverage for part-time workers or by increasing the proportion of part-time workers employed,” Fronstin said. “Since the recession, we have seen the share of part-time workers going up and at the same time there has been a slight drop in part-time workers with coverage from their own employer.”

The EBRI report notes that penalties for failing to provide health coverage under PPACA will apply only to employers with 50 or more full-time workers. But most of these employers already offer coverage: In 2011, 93 percent of employers with 50‒199 workers offered coverage and 99 percent of employers with 200 or more workers offered it.

The full EBRI report is published in the March EBRI Notes, “Trends in Health Coverage for Part-Time Workers,” online here.

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