AHRQ Views

Blog posts from AHRQ leaders

Today, two AHRQ-sponsored studies were released that conclude that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has not reduced the availability of full-time work or the work incentive for low-wage workers.

In the first study, researchers examined the effects of the requirement in the ACA for employers to provide health coverage to employees working at least 30 hours a week or pay a penalty. Using data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, an interview of approximately 60,000 households monthly, researchers did not find increases in the frequency of working either 25-29 hours weekly or fewer than 25 hours weekly in 2013, 2014, or the first half of 2015. Researchers also did not find a reduction in 2014 or 2015 in the frequency of working 30-34 hours, further demonstrating that employers have not reduced employee work hours below the 30-hour threshold to avoid the requirement to provide coverage.

In the second study, researchers assessed the impact of the expansion of Medicaid coverage on low-wage workers by analyzing job loss, job switching, and full- versus part-time status. Based also on data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, researchers compared States that had not expanded the program to States that have done so. The researchers found no statistically significant changes in labor market behavior as a result of Medicaid expansion, contrary to claims that the law would substantially reduce labor supply.

Since the ACA and its provisions have been put in place, approximately 17.6 million Americans have obtained health coverage. With this increase, the country has now reached the lowest levels of uninsured on record. In addition, not only are there fewer people without insurance, but everyone is benefiting from new protections, like preventive health care services at no cost and no lifetime limits.

And further, as these studies make clear, dire predictions about what would happen to people working part time and how employers might respond have proven to be unfounded. As these papers underscore, the ACA is working.

Page last reviewed January 2016
Page originally created January 2016
Internet Citation: Changes in Work Hours and Employer Insurance Not Borne Out. Content last reviewed January 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/blog/ahrqviews/010516.html