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Part-time Workers and the Health Care Law

Even when employer health coverage is available, insurance through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace is often cheaper and more comprehensive

Retailing giant Home Depot and theme-park operator SeaWorld Entertainment announced that part-timers currently covered by their company-sponsored "mini-meds" — plans with extremely limited benefits — will be on their own next year, since such plans will no longer pass muster under the Affordable Care Act.

Many of these workers may be better off, says Gerry Smolka, an AARP senior policy adviser. That's because government-subsidized plans may offer lower out-of-pocket costs — and better benefits — than the coverage they're losing.

The ACA provides part-time employees with, as Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane said in an internal memo, "a deal that can't be matched by us — or any company."

Smolka points out, however, that some part-timers — especially those who have other jobs or high-earning spouses — might end up paying more in the new marketplace.

Bill Hogan is a writer and editor at AARP Media.