The healthcare reform legislation passed into law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working at least 30 hours a week.
Instead, a growing number of employers are cutting back part-timers’ work hours to avoid paying for their insurance.
An estimated 2.3 million workers nationwide are at risk of losing hours and therefore pay, according to research by the University of California-Berkeley cited by the Los Angeles Times.
The Times offered as an example the city of Long Beach, Calif., which is limiting most of its 1,600 part-time workers to no more than 27 hours a week.
Large restaurant chains and retailers are also beginning to cut back on employee hours, and colleges are reducing courses for part-time professors.
According to the Times, the average annual premium for employee coverage was $6,540 in California last year, and family coverage was more than $16,000 a year. Nationwide, employee-only coverage cost $5,615 last year, and family coverage cost $15,745, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported.
One consolation for part-time workers is that due to low salaries, many of them will qualify for government insurance or be eligible for discounted premiums on private policies beginning in January.
On the other hand, it’s expected that some businesses will drop health coverage entirely and instead pay a penalty of $2,000 per worker.