"In the midst of a heated national debate over legislation to provide all Americans with affordable health insurance, Apple will skip the controversy entirely and extend full-benefit medical insurance to part-time employees in January 2010. According to sources, the benefits now offered only to full-time employees, including those who work at the retail stores, will be offered to those working as few as 15 hours a week, which would include nearly all store employees. The insurance benefit will apply to employees who have at least one year of service with Apple. The change in coverage is significant, since American businesses have traditionally offered medical and other benefits only to full-time employees, and sometimes reduced benefits to those who work at least 20-hours a week. Apple has 16,500 full-time equivalent retail store employees, according to the company’s latest financial filing. It’s estimated the staff is composed of about 9,900 part-time employees who will be affected by the insurance change. Based on the average cost of medical insurance policies purchased by employers, the annual cost of extending medical benefits to part-time store employees could be at least $80 million a year."