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Part-time Workers Confused by the Affordable Care Act

Our newest survey indicates that many part-time workers are confused about how the Affordable Care Act will affect them when it goes into affect in January, 2014. Our survey of 2,066 US adults, reveals that although the majority of workers (71%) have heard of the Act, many are confused about what the impact will be for them. And only 8% indicate their employer has communicated to them about the Act. As I’ve written about before, employers are generally paying a lot of attention to what they need to do to get ready. According to our survey, though, educating employees about how the Act is likely to affect them is not a focal area.

Organizations have a lot of work to do to get ready for complying with the Affordable Care Act in January 2014. Our survey found that 44 percent of part-time workers do not use an automated system to capture their time and 64 percent report their part-time employers don’t use an automated scheduling solution. This means that a lot of folks are doing this work manually, and they’ll have a hard time complying with the look- back and reporting requirements of the legislation. Perhaps more troubling, 36 percent of workers say that the hours they work are different from the hours they are scheduled to work, which could present a liability issue for employers.

According to Paul DeCamp, partner, Jackson Lewis LLP and former Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, “There are a lot of interesting data points in this survey and many of them should be of interest to employers around the country. Overwhelmingly, part-time workers are confused about how the Affordable Care Act will impact them in virtually every way and only 8 percent have heard anything about it from their employers. Organizations need to start a dialogue with employees to begin to shed light on this important issue and empower them with information as it becomes available.”

Our board member, Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady, is similarly concerned saying “As with other segments of the population surveyed, it appears as though part-time employees are also uncertain and confused by the elements and implications of The Affordable Care Act. Their uncertainty relates very much to lack of familiarity with the details of the Act as it applies to full and part-time employees as well as how the act changes the landscape of health service. However, I’m not certain that the survey verifies that employees are any more knowledgeable and clear about their current health insurance coverage. The survey indicates the need for policy leaders and employers to generate clear and accurate information regarding health insurance coverage and the impact of ACA on the lives of their employees.”

Survey Key Findings:

  • Most part-time workers have heard of the Affordable Care Act: 71 percent said they were familiar with the changes associated with it; 21 percent said they have not heard anything about it; and 7 percent said they have heard the name but are not at all familiar with with the changes associated with it.
  • Information on the Affordable Care Act is coming from a variety of sources: the news media (61 percent); friends and family (38 percent each); and social media (36 percent) all ranked high on the list. Only 8 percent said they had heard about the Affordable Care Act from their employer.
  • When asked how they felt about the changes associated with the Affordable Care Act, 27 percent said “confused”, 25 percent said “hopeful”, and 22 percent said “angry”.
  • When asked how much better or worse they thought their quality of care would be under the Affordable Care Act, 31 percent thought it would be worse; 30 percent weren’t sure; 23 percent thought it would not be impacted; and 16 percent thought it would be better.
  • When asked if they thought their healthcare would cost more or less, 45 percent thought it would cost more; 30 percent weren’t sure; 17 percent thought it would not be impacted; and 9 percent thought it would cost less.
  • 48 percent of part-time employees don’t think that the Affordable Care Act will have any impact on how many hours they are scheduled to work; 33 percent aren’t sure; 15 percent think they will be scheduled for less hours; and 4 percent think they will be scheduled for more hours.
  • 64 percent of part-time employees say they usually work the hours they are scheduled to work, while 32 percent say they usually work more, and 4 percent say they usually work less.
  • A slight majority of part-time workers say they use an automated system to track their hours at work – 56 percent versus 44 percent who do not.
  • Only 27 percent of part-time workers say their employer uses an automated system to create their schedule, 64 percent don’t, and 10 percent aren’t sure.

You can learn more about how workforce management technology can help with ACA compliance here. In the meantime, though, start thinking about employee communications as a critical element of your strategy.

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