Target cuts health benefits for part-time staff

Decision is part of trend to curb ACA-related insurance costs

Target Corporation, a Fortune 500 company and the nation's second largest discount retailer, announced Tuesday that as of April 1 it will no longer offer health insurance benefits to part-time staff in light of coverage available through the exchanges, the Wall Street Journal reported. This change will affect under 10 percent of Target's 360,000-member workforce.

Individual coverage made possible through the Affordable Care Act could provide part-time Target staff with plans preferable to or less costly than employer-sponsored coverage. Moreover, people who meet income requirements may qualify for premium tax credits if they don't have access to employer-sponsored insurance costing 9.5 percent or less of their wages.

"By offering them insurance, we could actually disqualify many of them from being eligible for newly available subsidies that could reduce their overall health insurance expense," said a Target corporate blog, the WSJ noted.

Since the ACA requires large companies to offer health insurance to staff working 30 hours or more weekly or incur penalties, large employers like Target may face cost increases as staff who hadn't previously enrolled in company-sponsored health plans flock to them to avoid tax penalties.

Target's decision aligns with nationwide employer benefit changes intended to cushion the blow of ACA-related budgetary hits. For example, Walgreen's and Home Depot are moving employees out of company-sponsored health insurance and into the exchanges, as FierceHealthPayer reported. IBM and Time Warner announced plans to fund health retirement accounts retirees may use to purchase coverage on private exchanges. And some small businesses are seeking legal advice about the possibility of moving sickly workers out of their health plans and into exchange products.

Companies also are increasing workers' out-of-pocket health insurance costs to avoid ACA taxes on high-cost plans slated to take effect in 2018, according to The Courier Journal. Some employers are considering eliminating spousal coverage while others narrow pharmacy networks, the Journal noted.

For more:
- read the WSJ article
- here's The Courier Journal article

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