Home Depot sends part-time workers to public healthcare exchanges

Home Depot will be shifting health coverage for roughly 20,000 part-time workers, who will qualify to seek plans on the new public marketplace exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, according to mutliple media reports.

The part-timers were previously covered under a limited liability medical plan that provided coverage of up to $20,000. Companies will be unable to offer these plans after Dec. 31. Enrollment for government-subsidized healthcare begins Oct. 1.

Though health coverage will be cut for part-timers, Home Depot will continue providing dental, vision, critical illness, disability, back-up dependent care and enrollment in Future Builder 401(k) plans. Part-time workers make up about 5% of Home Depot's total workforce.

Speculation regarding the change is varied. Some experts believe the exchanges will offer better coverage at a lower cost, while others worry that an unintended consequence of the law will involve more big businesses opting out of coverage for part-timers.

Home Depot spokesperson Stephen Holmes told HCN that workers will have more options for comprehensive coverage on the new marketplace.

Home Depot's announcement comes on the heels of a similar move by Trader Joe's, whose part-time workers will also seek coverage on the public exchanges. Some employers, most notably Walgreens, will offer insurance through a private exchange called the Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange.