Report: Benefits Substandard for Part-time and Other Non-Regular Workers

December 1, 2005 ( - Only around one-fifth (21%) of non-standard workers have health insurance through their employers, compared to three-fourths (74%) of regular full-time workers, according to a Commonwealth Fund report by Iowa Policy Project researchers.

Twenty-four percent of these part-time, temporary, and contract workers are uninsured, compared with 12% of regular workers, according to a press release on the report. Nonstandard workers obtain coverage three and one-half times more often from a spouse or other family member’s employer than do standard workers. Many go uninsured or rely on public programs, according to the report, ‘On the Fringe: The Substandard Benefits of Workers in Part-Time, Temporary and Contract Jobs’.

Other findings of the report include:

  • 5% of nonstandard workers are covered by Medicaid or Medicare, compared to 1% of standard workers.
  • 41% nonstandard workers reported being currently uninsured or uninsured at some point in the previous 12 months. In comparison, recent research finds that about one-quarter (26%) of all working-age Americans are uninsured or had a time uninsured in the previous year.
  • 18% of the children and 12% of the spouses of nonstandard workers are uninsured.
  • 10% of the children and 6% of the spouses of nonstandard workers depend on public health insurance.
  • Eighteen percent of nonstandard workers have medical discount cards, but no health insurance. The authors said that nearly all of these workers surveyed originally reported erroneously that they had health insurance, leading them to believe that surveys may be underestimating rates of uninsurance.

In the report, the authors had the following recommendations for policy changes to reduce this population of uninsured or underinsured:

  • Employer mandates, such as those proposed in several states and localities, requiring employers to either provide health coverage or pay into public health insurance programs. Employer contributions for nonstandard workers needs to be considered as well.
  • Provide uninsured workers access to group insurance pools, or allow workers to buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
  • Tie income-based tax credits with enrollment in a group insurance pool to help with affordability.

The complete report is here .