In today’s dynamic workforce, part-time employees play a vital role in many businesses. They offer flexibility, fill essential roles, and contribute significantly to your company’s success. However, providing health insurance benefits to part-time employees can be a complex and confusing topic for many small businesses.

When it comes to providing health insurance benefits, part-time employees often find themselves on the sidelines. However, in today’s business landscape, acknowledging and catering to the health needs of part-time workers is not just a thoughtful gesture—it’s a strategic move that can benefit both employees and small businesses alike


three employees mingling and two are shaking hands

Understanding The Landscape: Part-Time Employee Health Insurance Options

Part-time employees, despite working fewer hours than full-time counterparts, are a vital part of many businesses. Yet, they’ve historically faced challenges in accessing comprehensive health insurance coverage. Recognizing the importance of their contributions and well-being can significantly impact their job satisfaction and loyalty.

The actual percentage of small businesses offering health insurance coverage to their part-time employees in the United States varies depending on the source and definition of “small business.”

A small business in the United States is generally defined as a privately owned and operated business that meets specific size standards based on the number of employees or annual revenue. There isn’t a single, universally accepted definition, but common thresholds include an employee-based definition. Two common ones include

  • 500 or fewer employees: This is the standard definition used by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for most of its programs.
  • 100 to 1,500 employees: This definition is used by the Census Bureau for statistical purposes

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), on the other hand, defines a small business in two ways, depending on the context:

  1. Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (ESRP):
  • Fewer than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees: This applies to the employer mandate, which requires employers with 50 or more FTE employees to offer health insurance to their full-time employees or face penalties.
  1. Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP):
  • 1-50 full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees: This definition applies to SHOP, a marketplace specifically designed for small businesses to compare and purchase health insurance plans for their employees.


Do Small Businesses Offer Health Insurance to Part-Time Employees?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March 2023 Employee Benefits in the United States report, only 25 percent of employed part-time workers have employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey found that 34 percent of small firms (3-49 employees) offer health insurance to at least some of their employees, including part-time workers.

Ultimately, there’s no single answer to the question, “Should I offer health insurance to part-time employees?”. The decision depends on various factors, including:

  • Company size and budget: Smaller businesses may have tighter budgets, making offering benefits more challenging.
  • Employee demographics: Consider the age, health status, and family situation of your part-time workforce.
  • Industry and competitive landscape: Offering benefits can be a significant advantage in attracting and retaining talent in competitive industries.
  • Employee demand and preferences: Gauge employee interest and preference for health insurance coverage.

Before exploring specific options, it’s crucial to understand the different types of health insurance plans available:

  • Group health plans: These plans are offered by employers to their employees and often offer significant cost savings compared to individual plans.
  • Individual health plans: Part-time employees can purchase individual plans on the health insurance marketplace or directly from insurance providers.
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): These employer-funded accounts allow employees to reimburse themselves for qualified medical expenses.


a group of employees about to give a presentation

4 Ways To Offer Health Insurance To Part-Time Employees

Small businesses exploring health insurance for part-time employees can consider various affordable options. Some insurers offer plans specifically designed for part-time workers, tailoring coverage to their needs without breaking the bank for the employer. Additionally, contributions to Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) can be a cost-effective strategy.

Here are several approaches small businesses can take when offering coverage for part-time workers:

  • Traditional Group Health Plans

If your budget allows, consider offering full or partial health insurance coverage through a group plan. This option offers significant cost benefits for both you and your employees.

  • Employee-Sponsored Plans

Partner with a third-party administrator to offer a limited-benefit health plan specifically tailored for part-time workers. These plans often focus on preventive care and offer lower premiums than traditional plans.

  • Premium Assistance Programs

Contribute towards the premiums of your part-time employees’ individual health plans. This can be a cost-effective solution for both parties and provides flexibility for employees.

  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

Establish an HRA program where you contribute towards qualified medical expenses of your part-time employees. This allows you to control costs while helping employees with healthcare expenses.


Benefits of Offering Part-Time Health Insurance

Offering health insurance benefits to part-time employees isn’t just about altruism; it also yields advantages for the business. By providing these benefits, small business owners can attract and retain top talent, even among part-time staff. A healthy workforce translates to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and a more engaged team overall.

  • Attract and retain top talent: Offering health benefits can make your business more competitive and attract qualified candidates.
  • Boost employee morale and productivity: Employees with health insurance are often happier, healthier, and more productive.
  • Reduce turnover costs: Retaining experienced employees saves you from the time and expense of recruiting and training new staff.
  • Enhance company image and reputation: Building a positive employer brand by offering benefits can attract and impress customers and investors.


Additional Considerations for Small Businesses

  • State and federal regulations: Understand the specific regulations regarding offering health insurance benefits to part-time employees in your state.
  • Cost-sharing options: Explore cost-sharing arrangements with your employees to spread the financial burden.
  • Communication and transparency: Communicate your plans clearly to your employees and provide ongoing support regarding enrollment and benefits utilization.
  • Seek professional guidance: Consider partnering with a benefits consultant to navigate the complex landscape of part-time employee health insurance.

Offering health insurance to part-time employees can be a win-win situation for both businesses and employees. By understanding the options available, considering the benefits, and implementing best practices, you can create a health benefits program that fits your budget and supports the well-being of your valuable part-time workforce.

Remember, a healthy and happy workforce is a productive and successful workforce.


J.C. Lewis Is Your One-Stop Shop for Small Business Health Coverage

Navigating the complex world of health insurance can be overwhelming, especially for small business owners. That’s where J.C. Lewis Insurance Services comes in. We specialize in simplifying the process, from initial setup to ongoing maintenance, and offer a wide range of California and Arizona health insurance plans from leading, fully licensed providers.

Whether you’re looking for comprehensive coverage for your employees or need help navigating Small Group Insurance (1-50 Employees) or the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), our experienced team is here to guide you every step of the way. We’ll work with you to understand your unique needs and find the perfect solution that fits your budget and provides your employees with the peace of mind they deserve.

Let us take the burden off your shoulders so you can focus on what matters most: running your business.