What employment laws have the most influence on healthcare and why?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of employment-related laws that directly impact the issue of healthcare, not least of which is the highly-contentious Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derisively referred to by its critics as "Obamacare." One of the primary objectives of that lengthy and little understand law was the provision of health insurance coverage to Americans previously denied due to a variety of factors, such as unemployment or employment with a business that did not provide employees with a group plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, small business owners -- companies with fewer than 50 employees -- are eligible for tax credits in exchange for their use of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), while larger businesses, those with more than 50 employees, are required under the so-called Employer Mandate to provide health insurance coverage to at least 95 percent of their employees.

In addition to the Affordable Care Act, other laws that involve healthcare include the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which requires businesses to maintain a safe work environment to prevent or minimize incidents of injury and work-related illness, such as cancers from carcinogens associated with the type of labor being performed (e.g., employees exposed to hazardous chemicals or other toxic substances as a part of their responsibilities). The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA, also known as "workers' compensation) pays federal employees injured in the performance of their duties and that established the standard by which individual states operate, although the states differ widely in how they comply with the spirit of the federal law (read more on this point).

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide unpaid leave for employees to deal with medical and healthcare-related emergencies and other contingencies, such as the birth of a child and the need to care for a sick family member. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 requires owners/operators of mines, such as coal mines, to provide safe working environments and to contribute to efforts at preventing and treating mine-related illnesses and injuries.

These are the main federal statutes that cover both employment issues and healthcare. Links to the federal websites that provide additional details are provided below.