Wal-Mart cuts health benefits: how reform will help

Sarah Kliff has a blog post on the Washington Post website noting that health reform will do little to encourage employers like Wal-Mart to extend coverage to part-time workers. That is true. What is left out of the conversation, however, is that those part-time workers will have better options for insurance through the health benefit exchanges starting in 2014.

Take, for example, a part-time Wal-Mart employee who makes $15,000 per year with no affordable health benefit options through work. Let’s say that person is married to someone making $30,000 per year and let’s assume that neither spouse can access affordable employer-based insurance coverage. This family also has two children.

In the health benefits exchange the family can’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. They will have a range of competing insurance plans from which to choose. And they will get subsidies to help pay the premium.

This family with a household income of $45,000 per year will have to pay about $2,672 annually for a robust family health insurance plan beginning in 2014. A few hundred dollars every month still isn’t cheap, but it’s much more affordable than what most people can find now. And for many people it will be a better option than getting stuck with whatever policy Wal-Mart offers to part-timers.

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