Madison County departments heads recently learned of the impacts the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have on their departments.
Wendy Dillingham, senior benefits specialist for CEBCO, the county’s health care insurance provider, spoke to them on the topic of employment eligibility Monday.
While for many in the past, 32 hours per week was considered full-time status, and thus eligible to be offered insurance by the employer, the ACA adjusts that number to 30 hours. The rule went into effect Jan. 1, 2014, but enforcement of the rule has been delayed until Jan. 1, 2015.
An average of 30 hours per week indicates meticulous record keeping is necessary, Dillingham said. The ACA, also known as “Obamacare,” requires tracking employees’ hours by way of a measurement period, an administrative period and a stability period.
Dillingham recommends department heads use 12 months for the measurement period, but they will have to decide when that period will begin and end.
The administrative period will be used to analyze employee data gathered in the measurement period and make any changes as needed. That will occur in the fall of 2014.
The stability period is the time frame in which an employee is eligible to participate in the health plans. She said it will be the calendar year from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2015.
To assist department heads with calculations, Dillingham said the Wayne County government has devised a spreadsheet which the county has “graciously agreed to share with all interested counties.” She said they worked very hard to develop this instrument so other counties don’t have to “re-invent the wheel.”
Dillingham said department heads will have to use “your best judgement when an employee starts regarding what their paid hours will be, going forward.”
Paid hours will include comp time, vacation and sick time, but only when actually paid, not necessarily when taken, she said.
Should a question arise, make any exception “on the side of offering insurance, not the opposite,” Dillingham said. That way, the county avoids any fine which could be levied through the ACA for not providing insurance to a potentially eligible employee.
Seasonal employees will not be eligible for coverage.
Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.