Helping gig economy workers access affordable health care

A new program aims to help provide access to health care for workers employed part-time, paid hourly or on contract.

The intermittent or "gig" workforce is expanding, with many people attracted to the flexibility of part-time or temporary positions. In fact, more than 55 million Americans are considered part of the intermittent workforce — more than a third of the total number of U.S. workers.

These part-time, seasonal and contract workers may make up a critical part of your business, filling immediate staffing needs while helping lower your overhead costs. Unfortunately, this kind of work doesn’t typically provide benefits, like health insurance. Plus, with the start of what’s called Medicaid redetermination, some members of the intermittent workforce may soon be looking for new coverage options.   

To help fill this gap, some health plans are working to improve access to more affordable medical coverage for these hourly and part-time employees. For example, a program called UnitedHealthcare FlexWork® provides medical coverage options to employers who depend on intermittent employees.

Limited medical plans, like FlexWork, may provide eligible employers and their employees with access to national health care provider and pharmacy networks, with the option to add specialty benefit plans, like vision and dental. Importantly, FlexWork plans provide access to first-dollar coverage medical care and prescriptions, plus unlimited virtual visits at no out-of-pocket costs to employees.

For more protection, FlexWork plans can include enhanced hospital indemnity coverage, which provides a cash payout to help offset the cost of copayments for medical services, such as doctor visits, urgent care appointments and other services. This is especially important given more than half of Americans say they would struggle to pay for an unexpected medical bill.  

"With UnitedHealthcare FlexWork, we are working with employers to help meet the health care needs of an evolving labor force, providing specially designed coverage for employees with variable schedules and incomes," said Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. "Our FlexWork plans represent an important option to help expand access to more affordable medical care for workers, particularly because some members of the gig workforce may have been enrolled in Medicaid and could at some point lose that coverage through the on-going redetermination process."

While FlexWork plans provide important access to medical care with no deductibles, no coinsurance and affordable copays for covered services, some restrictions may apply compared to traditional medical plans. That may include annual visit limits on ambulatory/outpatient services and maximum benefit amounts per hospital admission, with no limit on the number of annual admissions.  

As the gig economy continues to grow — providing more opportunities to help meet your business needs — understanding how you can help support these employees may be a crucial piece of the puzzle. As the workforce evolves, it’s important that businesses shift with it to remain competitive in the job market. Helping to support all your employees’ health needs may be one place to start.

For more information about coverage options for people within the intermittent workforce, click here

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