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Robert Half: Healthcare reform cost is manageable

January 30 2013

Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE: RHI) CFO Keith Waddell said in a conference call with analysts that meeting healthcare coverage requirements under U.S. healthcare reform will likely mean a small, single-digit percentage increase to the overall pay rates for the company's temporary workers. Employers must offer healthcare coverage to full-time workers starting in 2014 or face possible penalties.

“For our temporary employees there is a 12-month period after we first hire them, where they essentially audition to be full-time followed by a 12-month period, if once qualified, we have to pay or — pay for coverage or pay a penalty,” Waddell said in the call.

Robert Half intends to offer coverage to those temporary workers, and the company has done a fair amount of work to figure out what those costs might be, Waddell said in the call.

“They require us to estimate the percentage that will qualify as full-time, the percentage that will accept and decline coverage, what the cost of that coverage might be, as well as the number of months during that second 12-month period where they would remain an employee,” Waddell said in the call. “It is our estimate at this early time, that the increase to ... our cost would be a small single-digit percentage increase to the overall pay rates we provide. So we believe based on what we know today — and clearly it’s somewhat early and subject to those assumptions — we think the cost side will be manageable.”

For more on the 12-month look-back period in the Affordable Care Act, click here.

Waddell also said in the conference call the company has also received interest from customers within the 50-employee range of how Robert Half might help them. Healthcare reform penalties will only impact firms with more than 50 full-time equivalents.

“Our response is that we can legally help them remain under 50, since we are the employer of record for the temporaries we provide to them, and that we have every intention of ourselves legally complying with the act on a go-forward basis,” Waddell said in the conference call.

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