The Affordable Care Act (ACA)
About the ACA
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Health Care Reform law, is federal legislation passed in 2010. This new law is complex, multi-faceted and has an impact on both employers and individuals.
In general, the new law requires that employers with 50 or more full-time employees—like the university—offer medical insurance to full-time employees and their children up to age 26. Employers not offering medical insurance may have to pay a penalty to the government. As you know, the university already offers medical insurance to benefit-eligible employees.
The ACA has requirements with various implementation dates, but most of the requirements are effective January 2015. As an employer, the University of Missouri has significant responsibilities under the law, and we will be developing policies and practices that ensure our compliance for January 2015.
On July 2, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced a delay in the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility penalty and reporting requirements until 2015.
In coordination with this change, the university will offer medical coverage to variable hour employees who meet the eligibility criteria beginning January 2015.
The law also requires that most Americans have medical insurance by January 1, 2014. The law ensures that Americans have access to medical insurance they can afford—whether they get it from an employer, an insurance company or from the government. People who are not covered by medical insurance beginning in 2014 may have to pay a tax penalty.
You can access information about the ACA at www.healthcare.gov.
Visit the Health Care Rerform Q&A to learn more about processes for tracking the hours of variable hour employees.
If you believe you, or another employee, are eligible for medical coverage, but were not offered for coverage, please view the process for requesting review of your medical benefit eligibility.
How Does This Impact Me?
The ACA requires that you have medical coverage by January 1, 2014. Your benefit status determines your eligibility for medical insurance at the university.
Benefit-eligible employees are those faculty and staff whose primary position is at least 75% of a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) position and have an indicated appointment duration of at least nine months. The changes will not impact your eligibility for benefits or your coverage under the benefit plans. We will continue to offer a competitive and valuable benefits package that includes medical insurance to our 19,000 full-time, benefit-eligible employees. Our current medical plan is fully compliant with all of the coverage requirements of the ACA.
Benefit-eligible employees are those faculty and staff whose primary position is at least 75% of a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) position and have an indicated appointment duration of at least nine months. The law requires that you have medical coverage by January 1, 2014. If you are benefit eligible and are not receiving medical insurance from another source, like your spouse’s or parent’s plan, the university medical plan may be your best option for coverage. You’ll want to pay special attention to the annual enrollment period this year when you’ll learn more about your medical coverage choices. We will provide the information you need to help you make an informed choices. Annual enrollment begins on October 21, 2013. Be sure to watch for information early in October.
Staff whose regular assignment is not full-time and may or may not work a set schedule and whose hours may vary are referred to in the law as “variable-hour” employees. Variable-hour employees who work an average of 30 hours or more per week in all jobs over a measurement period (determined by the employer in compliance with the ACA regulations) must be offered access to the employer medical plan, although they may decline or waive the coverage. Employees who work in more than one job may also fall into this category. Although their hours don’t vary, the combination of jobs may give them access to the employer medical plan.
This refers to workers whose primary relationship to the university is as a student. Students use part-time jobs for several purposes, including offsetting their educational expenses and gaining work experience. The majority of student workers do not average 30 hours per week; in fact, most work significantly less than that in order to focus on their academic programs. Student workers who work an average of 30 hours or more per week in all jobs over a measurement period (determined by the employer in compliance with the ACA regulations) must be offered access to the employer medical plan, although they may decline or waive the coverage.
If you are a student worker and meet the criteria for coverage during the measurement period, you will be notified by the university that you are eligible to enroll in medical coverage. The first notification will occur in October 2014 for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. We expect that most student workers will remain outside the eligibility criteria.
There are more than 1,400 part-time faculty and other academic personnel in the system that teach courses, perform duties within our research laboratories, tutor students, etc. These individuals rarely work more than part-time; their jobs by definition are part-time. Adjunct faculty and other academic appointments who work an average of 30 hours or more per week over a measurement period (determined by the employer in compliance with the ACA regulations) must be offered access to the employer medical plan, although they may decline or waive the coverage.
Because the law determines eligibility based on hours worked, we have established new policies in regard to quantifying work time for part-time faculty and other academic personnel. This is a systemwide method to ensure that those eligible are offered medical insurance. After consultation with the campus provosts, we have established that—for teaching academic personnel—every course credit hour equals 3.3 hours worked. That means a 3-credit-hour course is equivalent to 10 hours of work per week, or .25 Full Time Equivalent (FTE).
Other part-time faculty and academic personnel who do perform functions other than, or in addition to, teaching will be required to document their hours worked. This is not an attempt to move these individuals from salary to hourly wages, but simply to track eligibility for medical benefits.
If you are in an adjunct faculty or other academic appointment and meet the criteria for medical coverage during the measurement period, you will be notified by the university that you are eligible to enroll in medical coverage. The first notification will occur in October 2014 for coverage beginning January 1, 2015 We expect that most will remain outside the eligibility criteria.