How You Will Be Affected By Obamacare

Dan Fastenberg
How many workers' health care coverage will be changed by Obamacare?
How many workers' health care coverage will be changed by Obamacare?

On Thursday, President Obama felt compelled to make another White House speech about the virtues of health care reform. It's no surprise as the Affordable Care Act remains controversial. But now that the reform is no longer just a politician's goal, but a law that's being implemented piece by piece over the next few years, what does it really mean for the country's 157 million workers? Who will be affected and how?

First, far fewer people than you might think will be impacted, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan and nonprofit California-based health care research foundation. "There's a lot of hyperbole out there," says Chris Ryan, a frequent commentator on the health care law and a vice president for ADP, the payroll and benefits firm. "Most businesses will take care of the administrative work themselves and coverage will continue. And that will make 'Obamacare' invisible for most workers."

Big Takeaways From The Kaiser Research:

1. The vast majority of workers likely will see little, if any, changes in their health care. Kaiser found that 95 percent of employers with at least 50 workers already offer health benefits. Those workers will likely see "fairly small, if any" changes, according to Ryan, as the law is intended to leave those plans intact. Most of the changes that workers will see will "be related to administrative issues for health care plans that will be taken of by human resource departments." Caveat: It's still too soon to tell how employers will manage their plans, including whether workers' co-pays and deductibles will rise. But for most workers, "if you're not paying attention, the Affordable Care Act will likely go right by you," Ryan says.

2. Part-time workers will be impacted the most. Anyone who works more than 30 hours a week is to be guaranteed coverage under the law. This group includes part-time workers who put in more than 30 hours a week. Experts estimate that the number of uninsured workers who will gain coverage will be between 5 million and 7 million workers.