When the Obama administration pushed through the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”), it counted on labor unions to be the strongest supporters, but some unions leaders have grown frustrated and angry about what they say are unexpected consequences of the new law. These consequences create problems that could jeopardize the health benefits offered to millions of their members, says the Associated Press.The problem lies in the unique multiemployer health plans that cover unionized workers in retail, construction, transportation and other industries with seasonal or temporary employment.
- Known as Taft-Hartley plans, they are jointly administered by unions and smaller employers that pool resources to offer more than 20 million workers and family members continuous coverage, even during times of unemployment.
- The union plans were already more costly to run than traditional single-employer health plans. The Affordable Care Act has added to that cost — for the unions’ and other plans — by requiring health plans to cover dependents up to age 26, eliminate annual or lifetime coverage limits, and extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
- Workers seeking coverage in the state-based marketplaces, known as exchanges, can qualify for subsidies, determined by a sliding scale based on income. By contrast, the new law does not allow workers in the union plans to receive similar subsidies.