• David McNew/Getty

    The Effects

    Could You Live Like This?

    Three jobs, 16-hour days—and still no health care. In California, immigrant women are facing an uphill struggle.

    There is a dull silence when the subject of health care is broached. Barbara Rosales delivers a weak smile as she begins to detail her struggle over the past few months, since her employers realized they would be forced to pay into their employees health care as part of the national Affordable Care Act. "I have seen my hours go down 10 hours a week at both my jobs," says Rosales, who works as a line cook at two Bay Area chain restaurants and is originally from El Salvador. "It is really hurting us and we don't know what to do," she says in a combination of Spanish and broken English at her small house in San Francisco’s Outer Mission district where she raises her two children. "I worked around 35 hours at both my jobs through October, but then things started to change and we all began to be sent home early or when we weren't needed. It is hard and I am paying more so that my children are covered."

    Her story is not unusual for many single mothers in California and across the country. Now that employers with more than 50 employees are required by law to offer health care coverage to workers who regularly log at least 30 hours week, some businesses are reducing their part-time staff’s work. (Employers with fewer than 50 workers are not required to provide coverage under the new health care provisions.) This has left many workers out in the cold.