5 things to know about health law and job benefits

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(AP)—Five things to know about how the health care overhaul affects people who get their insurance coverage through work.

1. HOURS MATTER
The law requires companies with 50 or more workers to offer their full-time staff—defined as 30 hours a week or more— health insurance. That could cause some employers to cut hours for some workers.

2. COSTS RISING
A tax on high-cost health plans begins in 2018, but many companies already are starting to trim benefits to ahead of the tax. That means higher out-of-pocket costs for workers. Combined with other taxes, fees and requirements, the health law could raise the total cost of an employer-sponsored plan from 1 to 5 percent.

3. PREVENTIVE CARE MADE EASIER
Most health plans are required to cover several forms of preventive care without charging patients an upfront cost like a co-payment. That includes cholesterol tests, colonoscopies, vaccines and birth control.

4. WHO’S COVERED?
The law may prompt some companies to drop coverage for their part-time workers and send them to public health insurance exchanges. Some businesses also may start excluding spouses from their coverage.

5. WELLNESS PROGRAMS UPGRADED
The health law allows bigger incentives for employees who participate in wellness programs. That could mean a discount on your monthly premium if you meet certain health goals. On the other hand, it could mean paying more each month for failing to meet health targets.

(AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson reported from Chicago. AP Business Writer Tom Murphy reported from Indianapolis.)

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