States Could Push Part-Time Workers Into Exchanges

April 30, 2013

Under the ObamaCare mandate, every American must obtain health insurance and every company must provide its full-time workers with health coverage or pay a fine. Now, Washington state lawmakers have found a creative way of transferring a large chunk of their health care expenses into the health exchanges, says the Associated Press.

  • Washington state's government is planning on pushing a group of employees out of their current state-supported health care plan into the health exchange mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
  • The employees in question are part-time employees who currently receive health coverage through the state.
  • The plan would shift substantial costs to the federal budget while likely adding costs for some part-time workers.

While Washington state appears to be the first considering such a move, it probably will not be the last as state governments struggle to deal with their budget deficits and massive unfunded pension and health care liabilities.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the proposal and it is unclear whether or not the move was anticipated when ObamaCare was drafted.
  • As of now, there are no federal rules dictating that a state cannot take such an action, only that all employees working over 30 hours must receive coverage.
  • Authors of Washington's plan say it would save the state $120 million over the next two years.

Unlike many others, Washington offers health coverage to employees working as few as 20 hours a week. Under the new proposal, these workers would lose state coverage but then receive higher wages to pay for insurance in the exchanges.

  • Instead of offering to sweeten the deal with higher wages, other states are simply telling their part-time workers that they must work less than 30 hours a week.
  • Under the mandate, employers are not required to provide coverage to workers who work less than 30 hours a week.
  • For workers witnessing a reduction in hours, the change might create substantial financial woes.

Source: Mike Baker, "Governments May Push Workers to Health Exchange," Associated Press, April 24, 2013.

 

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