Orlando's big theme parks, whose businesses depend on cheap, flexible part-time and seasonal labor, are struggling with how — or even whether — to provide health insurance for those workers now that the federal government is requiring better plans.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. is the latest major employer to tell its part-time and seasonal workers that their current health-insurance plan will be eliminated, beginning in January.
That's because the plan SeaWorld currently makes available to part-time and seasonal workers is an extremely limited benefit plan — often referred to as a "mini med" — that carries low premiums but also caps payouts.
Such mini-med plans will soon be outlawed by the federal government's Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health-care reform law championed by President Barack Obama and passed by Congress in 2010. Among many other changes, the legislation forbids insurance plans from imposing annual monetary limits on essential medical care or on overall spending. That prohibition goes into effect next year.
Businesses say such plans are an affordable way to provide basic health coverage to part-time workers who cannot afford the premiums of a full insurance plan. But others say the plans amount to phantom coverage that does nothing to protect people in the event of catastrophic injuries or illness — the times when health insurance is most important.