NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Obamacare Will Reduce Women's Work Opportunities

October 9, 2014

Obamacare has caused a number of problems, from raising health care costs to encouraging unemployment, but economist Casey Mulligan offers a new one: gender inequality.

Women's role in the workforce has changed dramatically over the last half-century:

  • In 1975, the majority of full-time work was done by men. Many women did not participate in the workforce or worked part time.
  • In 2013, however, only 18 percent of employed women were working part time; the rest had full-time jobs.

What does the Affordable Care Act, purported to benefit women, mean for women in the workplace? It could send more women back to part-time jobs, Mulligan contends. He describes the incentives within the law:

  • The ACA imposes a penalty on large employers beginning in 2015, requiring them to offer their full-time employees (those working at least 30 hours per week) health insurance or face a fine. As a result, many employers are reducing their employees' hours to below 30.
  • Part-time work will also be desired by many employees, because it allows them to access federal subsidies in the health care exchanges. When employers offer health insurance to their full-time employees, such an offer prohibits those employees from accessing taxpayer subsidies within the health care exchanges instead. Part-time employees without insurance offers, however, have access to those subsidies.
  • According to Mulligan, both the employer and employee incentives towards part-time work are worth thousands of dollars each month.

Significantly, Mulligan points out that women are twice as likely to be the ones who hold jobs that typically require 30 to 39 hours per week -- the very positions most likely to be reduced to 29 hours per week as a result of the ACA's incentives.

Source: Casey Mulligan, "How Obamacare Begets Gender Inequality," Real Clear Markets, October 7, 2014.


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