With the ACA’s employer mandate on the horizon, many employers with part-time and variable hour employees are also re-evaluating their benefit offerings for part-time employees.

The video game retailer GameStop is one of them. The company’s workforce is made up of a majority of part-time employees, with some working 30 hours a week and others just a few hours each week. Next year, the retailer will have to offer its 30-hour-a-week employees health coverage as mandated by the ACA.

GameStop already offers voluntary benefits, and about 4,000 employees are enrolled, says benefits manager Carol Bryant. Part-timers can take advantage of dental, vision and identify theft policies, she said, adding that the latter is extremely popular among the company’s young workforce whose average age is 27.

See related story: Employers consider voluntary benefits for growing part-time workforce

“We offer basically everything but pet insurance,” she said during the final day of EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit Wednesday.

The employees who take advantage of GameStop’s voluntary benefits have no other way to get coverage, Bryant said, adding that many want to avoid finding a plan on their own.

“Many people are just flat out scared of the exchanges,” she said.  “They just don’t want to go down that road.”

Employers feel the same way, according to Joseph Murgo, Aetna Voluntary Plans’ executive director and head of market development. Murgo told Summit attendees many of the employers who stopped offering benefits to part-timers in 2013 are now seeking to reinstate them because exchanges aren’t working.

When it comes to offering benefits to its part-time employees, Murgo said he’s found employers tend to fall within four categories:

  • Employers who don’t offer benefits. 
  • Employers who don’t want to offer comprehensive coverage but do provide dental and life insurance.
  • Employers who offer supplemental choices. They don’t offer minimum essential coverage but want an inexpensive plan that gives employees a fixed cash benefit to help with their deductible.
  • Employers who offer minimum essential coverage.

There are a number of solutions, he said, and it’s up to the employer to decide what’s best for the company and its employees. 
What GameStop’s plan will look like next year is still unknown, Bryant says.

“There’re just so many options out there,” she said, adding that it’s critical a company choose the right plan for its employees.

The right plan can include a variety of strategies to account for different segments of workers, said Murgo, who adds that a quarter of American workers are either part-time or contingent employees and less than half work full time.

“There’s a lot of fluidity in this workforce,” he says, “and it’s expected to increase.”

GameStop offers separate plans for its full-time and part-time employees, and will continue that practice next year, said Bryant. Communication is important when dealing with different staffers who have different plans, she added. The managers of each store are the key to ensuring employees know where and how to enroll, she said, and they must be knowledgeable about both plans.

Offering benefits to part-time employees also helps retain some of those workers who might start working at GameStop in high school and eventually become managers, Bryant said.

“When they’re engaged in a benefit, it’s harder for them to leave,” she says.

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