Home Depot Sends Part-Time Workers Insurance Shopping
By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Home improvement retailer adapts new policy preceding Obamacare
Home improvement mega retailer the Home Depot has decided to end health insurance coverage for nearly 20,000 part-time employees, directing them to government-funded insurance programs. Many companies have been restructuring their insurance benefits to better fit the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, which will begin selling policies on Oct. 1, and take effect Jan 1, 2014.
The Home Depot’s employees currently working less than 30 hours per week (the separating point between part and full-time defined by the ACA, and adopted by the Home Depot) will not be offered limited liability medical insurance, says Home Depot spokesman Stephen Homes. The company employees roughly 340,000 people, with about five percent enrolled in that coverage. The move mimics that of other companies, such as Wegmans and Forever 21 that have cut employee benefits ahead of the Obamacare rollout.
The program was designed to allow uninsured citizens the opportunity to buy medical coverage subsidized by taxpayers. Low-wage employees may find better insurance options through the government program, but that was never its intention. The ACA was supposed to provide coverage for people who couldn’t afford traditional coverage — the self-employed or those working for very small companies. Big companies that are withdrawing insurance coverage were intended to remain committed to their current health insurance policies.
While Home Depot’s part-time employees will be losing the health benefits provided by the company, full-time workers will retain the coverage. However, the rise in the cost of healthcare will result in the cost of the company’s full-time workers’ benefits also jumping up. However, the news isn’t all bad for Home Depot part-timers considering they will continue to be offered dental, vision, critical illness, disability, and back-up dependent coverage.
The new wave of healthcare coverage has almost arrived, with the trend being to let employees find their own means, whether public or privately funded. Regardless of where the coverage comes from, more money will be poured in, with fewer results coming out. The Affordable Care Act’s intentions might have been good, but the results of it may prove to show the exact opposite of what’s implied by its name.