Part-Time Health Benefits
As a recent graduate or as someone preparing to graduate, you have probably thought a lot about what you are going to do to support yourself. In fact, you might have even begun the process of looking for a job, only to notice that you either do not have enough experience, or you cannot find a job that you think you would enjoy. Add to that the current uninviting job market: the jobs that are available tend go to the most qualified candidates, and they usually are gone quickly. This can be frustrating, but instead of living off your savings while you job-hunt, you should consider taking a part-time job.
This may feel like a step backward, but don’t let that discourage you. Working a part-time job will provide you with some income and will keep your resume built up, even if the work experience is not totally relevant to what you ultimately want to do. And for those worried about having insurance or finding other benefits, you should know that even part-time employees at many companies are offered health insurance and other benefits. While health benefits for part-time employees may not be at the level of having paid vacation days or a 401k plan, you should know that they still do exist. Now, before you take the first part-time job that comes your way, you should know and understand the benefits of the job and the solutions available to you.
The Affordable Care Act and Part-Time Employees
Signed into law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act was designed to provide affordable health coverage to everyone in the United States. For many people, this means increased access to programs like Medicaid, cheaper prescription drugs, the option to stay on their parents’ insurance longer, and access to free preventive care. As a recent graduate, you are probably aware of the fact that you can stay on your parents’ insurance plan until you are 26. If you find that you are not able to remain on your parents’ insurance and you are not sure where you will find coverage, then you really need to know all of your options.
The Affordable Care Act also has another reform that is aimed at helping those who are underemployed. The Act requires that employers provide healthcare benefits to employees that work 30 or more hours. If employers do not offer these qualifying part-time employees health benefits, then the employers could be subject to a penalty or fine from the government. For many employers, part-time workers used to mean those who worked 32 hours or less, but the new law changed the definition of part-time to include those who work 30 hours or more, which allows those working part-time jobs the opportunity to be insured through their employer’s insurance provider.
Those who find themselves in a part-time job and are not offered insurance through their employer need to know that one of the components of the Affordable Care Act is the Health Insurance Marketplace. Through the Health Insurance Marketplace you will be able to find an affordable insurance plan that fits all of your needs. Unfortunately, this program will not officially open until 2014. But when it does open, it will provide support to individuals and families in need of medical insurance. If you find that you are not receiving the part-time employee health benefits that you need, then the Marketplace could be the best way for you to find a solution to your healthcare needs.
Finding an Insurance Solution
As discussed above, as a part-time employee you may or may not have the option to purchase an insurance plan through your employer. If you are not offered that option because you work fewer than 30 hours, then it is up to you to find a solution to your insurance needs. For some recent graduates, the simplest insurance solution for you may be to stay covered on your parents’ plan. For others, this may not be an option. Either way, you should consider all your health insurance options to make sure you have the best possible coverage.
No Insurance: One option you will have, for just a short while longer, is to stay uninsured. However, this option is not recommended because you never know when an accident or illness may happen. If you do become ill or injured, and you do not have health insurance, you could end up spending a lot of money or going into debt to cover your medical expenses. You can avoid these situations by having some sort of insurance plan that will keep you protected.
Short-Term Medical Insurance: Another option that you have available to you is to find and purchase a short-term medical plan. If your part-time job is a temporary income solution, then you might want to consider a temporary medical insurance solution. Part-time job health benefits are not always that comprehensive, and you may not even be able to take advantage of them unless you work 30 or more hours. You need a solution that provides you with the coverage you need, but at an affordable price. Short-term medical insurance plans offer you the coverage you need and can often be tailored to fit your needs. These plans are temporary and, typically, you can purchase them from month to month, but less than a full year.
Parents’ Insurance: Again, you may have the option to stay on your parents’ insurance plan until you are 26 years old. However, this option is not available to every young adult who needs a medical insurance solution. If the policy your parents use does not include children, then you will not be able to have coverage under their plan.
Group Insurance: In some cases, depending on your activities and your part-time job, you may be able to qualify for a group insurance plan. Occasionally, various professional groups offer members the option of joining an insurance plan. In order to receive a policy in one of these plans you need to be a member. If you are already a member of a professional group or a similar organization, then you should find out if they have an insurance plan that you can join.
Finding the Right Part-Time Job
As a recent college graduate, you most likely will not be excited about the idea of working a part-time job or being underemployed. However, it is a reality that many graduates face. If you are still in school, then you need to be prepared for this possibility. However, it is best if you look at this part-time job experience as something that is going to improve your chances of landing a full-time job in the future. Maybe you are wondering, “How is this part-time job going to help me get a job in the future?” You should know that it all comes down to finding the right part-time job. As you are searching and looking for a part-time job, here are a few of the things you should keep in mind.
Experiences: Depending on what type of career you want or the industry you hope to work in, you might be able to find a part-time job that will expose you to those types of jobs and provide you with relevant experience. Often, these types of positions come in the form of internships or entry-level work. Don’t be afraid to take a job that you think is beneath you because it could eventually lead to the job you really want.
Pay: It is difficult to find a part-time job to cover all your bills and expenses, but this does need to be on your mind while you search. You might even have to take on two part-time jobs to make ends meet. Since you are going to work a part-time job, you should have realistic expectations of your pay. Don’t be shocked if you have to accept minimum wage. It is important that you make a budget and stick to it in order to keep track of your money.
Number of Hours: Since your job is part-time, the amount of money you make will more than likely be dependent on the number of hours you work. While you may not get a definitive answer on how many hours you can expect to work every week, you need to make sure your employer can guarantee you a certain amount of work before you actually accept the position.
Expectations: Before committing to any part-time job, you need to think about the expectations you have for the job and what expectations your employer might have for you. It is important that you find a job that allows you to meet your personal goals and helps prepare you for future jobs.