The ACA’s part-time conundrum

From Sarah Kliff at Wonkblog:

This isn’t an issue specific to Indiana: From movie theater chains to state governments, there is a lot of debate over how large businesses will react to the requirement to provide insurance to full-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week.

The health care law requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide affordable insurance coverage to workers. For part-time employees, who work fewer than 30 hours, the story is different: A company does not get penalized for not providing health insurance coverage.

Of course it’s a little more complicated than that; firms must have fifty plus one full-time, non-seasonal, workers to incur the penalty portion of the Affordable Care Act. Despite scattered stories of employers cutting hours, no one really knows the extent to which companies will respond.

Still. There is a relatively straight-forward logic accompanying the decision to grow your part-time workforce in response. Of course that has consequences as well, something rarely kept in mind by ACA detractors (though Kliff covers it). There’s also a compelling logic to not avoid the penalty and simply have a more well-rounded semi-professional employee base with better health benefits.

Folks assumes the worst, perhaps typifying non-partisan populist cynicism surrounding business; that firms will make their employees bear the burden for such restrictions. Yet somehow that remains a indictment of the legislation for many rather than the companies themselves. I’m mystified that some assign such innocent reverence for the inevitable logic of firm reactions and not for the logic of elected officials pursuing their ideological priors.

Anyway, assuming the worst case scenario and Wal-Mart and McD’s and others vastly increase their part-time workforce, does that make the ACA an unintended job’s bill?


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