Pre-Tax Health Insurance for Part-Timers? Who Knew?

Attention part-timers! While we’re waiting for national health care reform to take effect, are you taking full advantage of the Massachusetts reforms?

This doesn't cut it anymore.

Did you know that employers must offer eligible part-time employees the option to use their wages to pay for health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis?

Who’s eligible? (And who’s required to offer this?)

• Do you work more than 64 hours a month (on average) for your employer?
• Does your employer have 11 or more full-time equivalent employees?

Then if you buy insurance through the Mass Health Connector, your employer must offer you the option to have the cost of the premium taken out of your paycheck pre-tax. This option is called a “Section 125 Plan”.

You would save money on state, federal and FICA withholding taxes. Your tax savings could be as much as 40% of the premium cost. Employers also save on FICA taxes.

More details

• Your employer does not have to contribute to the cost of your premiums, but
• They have to allow you to pay for your premiums pre-tax. That is, they set up the paperwork and the process to funnel some of your paycheck to your insurance company pre-tax.
• Your employer is allowed to offer pre-tax withholding to part-timers who work less than 64 hours a month, but that decision is at their discretion.
• Your employer must offer eligible employees access to one or more health care coverage options. (“Access” means the right to participate, not to receive subsidized coverage.)
• If you work for two or more employers, you may only participate in one employer’s plan.

Is my employer on top of this already?

• A copy of the employer’s Plan must be filed with the Health Connector. You can ask your employer about their plan or check the Mass Health Connector site to see whether they’ve filed.
• Your employer might not be aware of this requirement, which has been law since 2007! Check out this petition to organize your co-workers and remind your employer of their obligation.

Next steps

• What do you think? Will this help you or are you excluded?
• Are you already taking advantage of this option? How are you finding it?
• If your employer is not offering the option to part-timers who work at least 64 hours a month, have you informed them of their responsibility?
• Have you considered lobbying your employer to offer the option to all part-timers?

Leave a comment here. Let your fellow educators know what you think — and how it goes if you take action!

Tools for organizing

• Download this petition
• More information in the Section 125 Handbook.

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