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Universal Orlando Will Drop Health Plans for Part-Time Workers

Universal OrlandoUniversal Orlando is going to stop offering health insurance to part-time employees as of December 31, 2013. Universal is currently offering health plans that are considered to be inadequate according to the regulations in the Affordable Care Act, which goes into affect on January 1, 2014.

Universal is one of the largest employers in Central Florida. It has about 17,000 employees. Although thousands of the workers are part-time, only around 500 of them are currently enrolled in the employer sponsored health insurance plan. Other part-time workers are covered under their spouse’s health plan. Still others, who are between the ages of 18 and 26, are covered through their parent’s health insurance plan (thanks to the Affordable Care Act).

Part-time workers were informed this month that the company would only offer them a health plan through December 31, 2013. The coverage would end January 1, 2014, when the regulations in the Affordable Care Act that have not already been enacted would kick in.

The reason why Universal Orlando is dropping the health plans for part time workers is due to the Affordable Care Act. To fully understand exactly how that relates, you may need a little bit of history.

Currently, Universal Orlando offers part-time workers a limited benefit health insurance plan. This type of plan has also been called a mini-med plan. No matter what you call it, the reality is that these types of health plans are considered to be inadequate forms of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the health plan that Universal currently offers to part-time workers cost around $18 a week for employee-only coverage. The plans will not cover the worker’s spouse or children. The plan comes with an annual cap of $5,000 a year towards a hospital stay. Other caps are imposed for other types of health services.

Limited benefit plans offer people a false sense of security. In general, people expect their employer sponsored health plan to cover the cost of their health care. However, limited benefit plans don’t really do that. Coverage is cut off as soon as the employee reaches a certain dollar amount.

After that, the worker is stuck paying out of pocket for all his or her health care for the rest of the year. In 2014, health insurance plans will be prohibited from imposing an annual or lifetime cap on coverage.

Universal’s part-time workers, who are currently covered by employer sponsored limited benefit insurance, will remain covered by it through the end of 2013. In October of 2013, the health insurance exchanges will be ready.

The workers can use the exchanges to find a plan that will offer better coverage (that will not have a cap). Plans purchased through the exchanges in October of this year will go into affect on January 1, 2014.

Image by Joao Carlos Medau on Flickr