1/28/14 Schools eye health insurance mandate

Schools eye health insurance mandate
Board is told district could otherwise face $5 million in penalties  
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 1/28/14  
Reprinted with permission.      

   The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare to most, applies to all employers with 50 or more workers, including the Alamance-Burlington School System.

   “Our two main goals are to make sure all employees considered full time get the coverage they are entitled to and that we comply with the law,” Mark Doane, ABSS director of human resources, said at the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education meeting Monday night.

   The law “is evolving every day,” Doane said.

   If it is not careful, the district could face $5 million in penalties under the law. Making sure that does not happen will mean paying careful attention to how much part-time employees are working.

   The district has to offer insurance to 95 percent of its full-time employees or pay a $2,000 penalty for all but 30 of its 2,587 employees.

   “For a penalty, that could cost us $5 million,” Doane said.

   The district offer insurance to full-time employees, Doane said, but the trick comes when part-time workers work more than expected.

   “We would be responsible for picking up your insurance,” Doane said.

   The ACA defines full time as 30 hours a week.

   The IRS allows employers to average employee hours over three to 12 months; ABSS will use one year. At the end of this “safe-harbor” period, employers have a 90-day “administrative period” to determine whether an employee is full time, giving the district a chance to offer coverage to anyone who worked more than expected.

   The district will have to make sure temporary, full-time employees, substitute teachers, retirees filling in, part-time employees and coaches are not working more than 150 days during the year, which, Doane said, will mean carefully tracking part-time workers.

   The district also could pay a smaller “inadequate coverage penalty” of $3,000 for each full-time employee who gets coverage through a health care exchange and receives a premium tax credit.

   So, if three out of 100 employees do not get coverage and end up getting a premium tax credit, the district would pay $9,000 for those three, Doane said.

   There will also be lots of paperwork.

   “There are tons of information that go along with this act that we will have to track and submit,” Doane said.