YOU ASK:

How will health care reform affect part-time workers?

WE ANSWER:

In the new health care bill, part-time employees are not included in the mandate that employees be provided with health insurance. That means that it is not the responsibility of the employer to offer health insurance coverage to part-time employees.

However, employers may face a stiff fine ($2,000) for every employee after the first 30 if any one of these employees apply for and is granted a tax credit. This is applicable for those employers who have more than 50 full-time employees in their staff. 

Small companies, those who have 50 employees or less, are exempted from this.  However, the reality is that those employees who work lower than 30 hours in a week are not required for coverage.

Thus, the reform will hardly affect part-time workers since it is not mandated that employers provide them with insurance. This may mean that the more and more business will depend on part-time employees than on full-time, as this would mean lower labor costs.

It cannot be denied that those who work part-time also need health insurance. The health care reform bill will help somewhat, but not in the immediate future.

You see, part-timers may get cheaper coverage through state-based health insurance exchanges, which provides subsidies for those who are on a specific level of income. Also, the bill may just allow part-time workers to be covered under the Medicaid program. Those who have incomes of up to 133% of the specified poverty level can get Medicaid coverage.

The sad news is that there is little that part-time workers can do to get cheaper coverage in the immediate future. They may try to get a level of affordable healthcare through community health centers, which charges for treatments, where fees are based on one's income.

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