Health-care coverage still eludes some part-time workers

Source: Sarah Kliff, The Washington Post

The news came as a shock: Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, would not offer health benefits to new part-time employees, the company said Friday. But perhaps it shouldn’t have been so surprising, since the retailer was among a minority of U.S. businesses. Only 16 percent of employers offer health insurance to part-timers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent Employer Health Benefits Survey. The number increases to 42 percent among large employers. Wal-Mart has provided health insurance for part-time workers since 1996, said company spokesman Greg Rossiter. “There’s been a really striking decline in [employer-based] coverage for these part-time workers,” said Sara Collins, vice president for the Affordable Health Insurance Program at the Commonwealth Fund, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group. The health-care law that Congress passed last year is unlikely to change that. While part-time workers will have access to new, subsidized coverage on the individual market, the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement provides little incentive for employers to cover workers who are not full-time staff.

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