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Obamacare Work Week

Last Updated:2017-Jan-02
Principal Writer:Barry Shatzman

Issue Sections

Understanding The Issue
Issue Status
Our Analysis and Actions

Reported News

Health Care Policy

Related Bills

Save American Workers Act

2015 (HR-30)


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What is this issue about?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that most Americans have insurance to help cover medical expenses. There are several ways to obtain it, depending on your situation.

If you work "full-time" for a company that has 50 or more employees, the company is required to pay for your insurance. For the purposes of the ACA, a "full-time" employee is one who works 30 or more hours in a week.

There have been several attempts to have the threshold changed to 40 hours in a week - the latest being the 2014 Save American Workers Act (HR-30).

This law will hurt full-time workers and taxpayers

The biggest pain would be felt by workers whose work week would be reduced from 40 hours per week to just below 40 hours. While the lost work hour each week might have a negligible effect on the employee's budget, the need to purchase health insurance could be significant.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a million employees would lose health care insurance through their work. Most of those would obtain insurance through an Insurance exchange, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The remainder (up to half of these employees) would become uninsured.

Using an exchange allows someone to receive subsidies and tax credits to help pay for their insurance. Medicaid and CHIP provide essentially free health care. In any case. what previously had been paid for by companies would require public dollars as well as the person's funds. The CBO estimates this would cost the federal government (in other words - taxpayers) more than $50 billion over the next 10 years.

Companies will be the biggest beneficiary

Workers whose weekly work hours have been limited to fewer than 30 could see increased hours, as their employer would not need to pay for their health insurance unless they reached 40 hours weekly. However, there are many more people working 40 hours in a week than those who work 30 hours, according to the CBO.

The biggest beneficiary would be companies having more than 50 employees....

o Companies would be required to offer heath insurance to fewer employees

o HR-30 reduces penalties against companies that don't purchase the required insurance.

o The reduced penalties could make a company more likely to not offer health insurance as a benefit.

Where do we get our data?

We obtained our estimates of impacts of this issue from this Congressional Budget Office report.

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