The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Since this date, institutions such as the University of Indianapolis have been working to stay up to date with provisions in the law.
According to Human Resources Director Stant Clark the process of revising policies started in 2013. This process included reviewing the number of hours part-time and student employees worked. Under the act, any employee working more than 130 hours a month is now offered health insurance.
“It [updating the policies] started in February 2013. We had extensive workshops and conferences. … We were ahead of the game. We knew well in advance [the work that needed to be completed],” he said.
According to Clark, UIndy currently is in compliance with all provisions set out by the act. The process for making these changes includes notifying the university’s administration and employees of all changes that are going to be made. The HR department then works with an attorney to make sure all changes are effectively communicated. The process, he said, has been smooth but challenging.
“Our questions more concern, ‘When can I enroll? When does open enrollment end?’—just the basic questions that we normally have,” Clark said. “We have not been inundated with questions regarding the Affordable Care Act and the impact on the university’s health insurance.”
UIndy must begin tracking the hours of students and part-time employees to see whether they fall under the new provisions. The process started in January and will go a full year.
At the end of the year, any employees who were not considered benefit-eligible but meet the 130-hour requirement will be offered the university’s health insurance, effective March 1, 2015.
“We have an administrative period of two months where we go and revisit the number of hours that student workers work and hourly, not-eligible-for-benefits employees work for that year,” Clark said. “And then, based on that average, if they have worked over 130 hours on an average per month and during open enrollment, next year we have to extend those employees—student workers, also hourly employees—health insurance.”
Under the act, children can be added to or kept on a parent’s insurance policy until they are 26 years old, according to HealthCare.gov. Occupational therapy graduate student Tricia Holmes is just outside of this provision. However, her work with OT requires her to have health insurance for fieldwork.
“Last year, I ended up having to [sign up for the Affordable Care Act] because I was not working full time, and I lost that insurance. I had to switch to private insurance,” Holmes said. “It was under $200 a month, which under a very limited budget is still quite a bit, but we manage. And I live with my boyfriend, and he works full time. We pretty much live off of his income, and that policy was about to run out, so I had to switch insurance coverage.”
This moment drove Holmes to try to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act over Christmas break. Holmes said she experienced problems with the website, like others have reported.
“I attempted to sign up over break, and like many others, it [the website] crashed on me,” she said. “I guess it still ended up still having my application go through. It just never said it did, which is kind of odd, and I found out last week that I’m actually not eligible for Hoosier Health Wise insurance, because I don’t have any income. So I would have to sign up for Medicaid, and I don’t have the time to wait for Medicaid.”
Holmes has decided to renew her private insurance, which now costs $400 a month. She only has one more year of school left before she can focus on a full-time job. She said that graduate students are in a sort of awkward position because they can be too old for their parents’ coverage, but they may not be able to afford their own coverage.
Once Holmes graduates and gets a full-time job, she does not plan to try to re-enroll for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act. As a student going into the health field, Holmes can see some of the long-term effects of the law.
“As a student going into the health care field, we can see a lot of change coming soon, but we can’t necessarily predict all of the changes that it might bring,” Holmes said. “And it is hard to be somebody on the brink of getting a job and working in this field and sort of navigate your way to the truth and the opinions of people.”