It’s not at all common to think of part-time jobs and health insurance benefits in the same sentence. But it is possible to combine the two –if you know where to look. There are actually more employers who offer health insurance benefits for part-time workers than we generally assume.
The game is changing…
If you’ve been paying any attention to the healthcare scene, then you know that it’s changing fast. The Affordable Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare – is rapidly becoming the law of the land this year. As it rolls out, it is causing sweeping changes in the employer/health insurance relationship.
One of the major provisions of the law is that a large employer (50 or more employees) is now required to offer health insurance to any employee who works at least 30 hours per week. That will automatically require companies to offer health insurance benefits to millions of less than full-time employees.
Other reasons you may need health insurance from a part-time job
Apart from the Affordable Care Act, there may be other reasons why you would want to seek health insurance coverage for a part-time job.
The most obvious is if you are self-employed. Sure, you can purchase a private plan. but they are generally much more expensive than anything you can get through an employer-sponsored plan.
Another situation is if the company that you work for does not offer health insurance, or you are not eligible because you work as a contractor. It may work better for you if you retain your contractor position, but take a part-time job to cover the health insurance portion.
Companies that provide health insurance benefits to part-timers
There are well known employers who do offer health insurance for their part-time workers. Here’s a partial list, as well as the links to get more information for each employer:
This list is not comprehensive – you should check to see if there any companies out there that you wish to work for that offer benefits. One major hint is to follow up with competitors of any company that you know to provide health insurance for part-timers. Typically, if one employer in a given industry offers it, others will follow suit in order to be competitive. As an example, note in the list above that part-time
employee health insurance is provided by both Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, FedEx and UPS, Home Depot and Lowe’s, and Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
One caveat here: The Affordable Care Act is changing things rapidly. An employer on this list could drop coverage, while others add coverage. Check with any employer’s website or human resources department about health insurance for part-timers and never assume it to be true. Information in this area gets old fast!
But check the fine print.
It is important to point out that while there are many companies that offer health benefits to the part-time staff, the arrangement is generally more complicated than what it is with full-time employment. Carefully consider each of the following:
Time before eligibility. There is usually a significant time delay before you are eligible for coverage. They can vary anywhere from 60 days up to a full year before you will be eligible. Be careful to check human resources for any company that offers health insurance for part-timers.
Minimum number of hours to work. Employers will typically require that you work a minimum number of hours in order to qualify for the benefit. Starbucks for example, requires that you work a minimum of 240 hours per quarter, which is 20 hours per week. Generally, if you’re thinking of working a part-time job five or 10 hours a week in order to get health insurance, it won’t work.
Company contribution. Plans vary from company to company, many will require that you pay the entire cost of the premium yourself. If the company makes any contribution at all, consider it a bonus.
Dependent coverage. This is another mixed bag, some employers will extend coverage to dependents, while others will offer it only to the employee.
Degree of coverage. This is usually the biggest variable of all. Some employers will offer health insurance for part-timers that is comparable to what they offer to full timers. But others will offer a limited program, which generally means that they will pay only up to a certain amount of total benefits, and may exclude certain procedures entirely.
Part-time jobs with health insurance plans may not be perfect, but they are better – and usually more cost-effective – than having a private plan, and certainly than having no plan at all.