Home Depot has announced that it will end health insurance coverage for about 20,000 part-time employees. Instead, they will be encouraged to sign up for a plan through a government-sponsored Obamacare healthcare exchange or marketplace.
According to company spokesman Stephen Holmes, Bloomberg reports, any Home Depot employee who works less than 30 hours a week will no longer be eligible for its limited liability medical coverage. An estimated five percent of the company's workforce is affected by the curtailment of these benefits. Those workers will still retain eligibility for dental, vision, and other forms of company benefits, however.
Under Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, any employee who works 30 hours or more is considered full time. Home Depot intends to continue coverage for its full-time workers, "though those people will pay more next year, reflecting a rise in the cost of health care."
Home Depot's Holmes told The Daily Caller that "Unfortunately, the ACA precludes us from offering the limited liability medical plan we've been offering the part-time associates." He added that the affected part-time workers who will no longer get Home-Depot-provided health insurance will have more options through the government-run exchange network.
The government claims that tax-payer subsidized insurance policies bought through the health exchanges will result in more cost-effective coverage, but that remains to be seen after the October 1 launch date.
Back in April, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus declared flatly that "Obamacare is going to kill off small business."
Earlier this week, Walgreens announced that it was shifting its entire workforce into a private healthcare exchange with an employer-provided subsidy.
The Trader Joe's grocery store chain also disclosed in the past few days that it was terminating its low-cost health insurance plan for part-time workers in favor of exchanges.
While this may not affect these particular businesses specifically, many government-run exchanges don't yet exist or are behind schedule in ramping up, prompting one US Senator to previously describe the situation as a huge train wreck. At least 13 state attorneys general and other officials have warned about the possibility of fraud and identity theft associated with the healthcare exchanges.
Yesterday, Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled a bill that would replace Obamacare by allowing individuals to purchase medical insurance across state lines thereby creating a 50-state health insurance marketplace, expand health savings accounts, implement medical liability reform, and increase funding for state high-risk pools to address the preexisting condition issue. Similar legislation would also provide tax credits when individuals buy health insurance.
[image credit: Ildar Sagdejev]