5 things to know about the health law’s effect on job-based benefits

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Five things to know about how the health care overhaul affects people who get their insurance coverage through work.

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1. HOURS MATTER

The law requires companies with 50 or more workers to offer their full-time staff — defined as 30 hours a week or more — health insurance. That could cause some employers to cut hours for some workers.

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2. COSTS RISING

A tax on high-cost health plans begins in 2018, but many companies already are starting to trim benefits to ahead of the tax. That means higher out-of-pocket costs for workers. Combined with other taxes, fees and requirements, the health law could raise the total cost of an employer-sponsored plan from 1 to 5 per cent.

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3. PREVENTIVE CARE MADE EASIER

Most health plans are required to cover several forms of preventive care without charging patients an upfront cost like a co-payment. That includes cholesterol tests, colonoscopies, vaccines and birth control.

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4. WHO’S COVERED?

The law may prompt some companies to drop coverage for their part-time workers and send them to public health insurance exchanges. Some businesses also may start excluding spouses from their coverage.

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5. WELLNESS PROGRAMS UPGRADED

The health law allows bigger incentives for employees who participate in wellness programs. That could mean a discount on your monthly premium if you meet certain health goals. On the other hand, it could mean paying more each month for failing to meet health targets.

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AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson reported from Chicago. AP Business Writer Tom Murphy reported from Indianapolis.

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