University to expand eligibility for health benefits in 2016
As part of U.S. health care reform, large employers like U-M are expanding access to health benefits. The Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) provision of the Affordable Care Act aims to provide access to health plans to all employees – whether regular or temporary – as long as they are working full time. And for health care coverage, the regulations define full time employment as 30 hours per week on average.
U-M already offers a range of benefits to regular employees at 20 hours per week. As of January 1, 2016, the university will also begin offering medical and prescription drug coverage to full time temporary employees and certain others who are not eligible for benefits today.
Temporary employees who are hired to work 30 or more hours per week will be able to elect health coverage as of the start of employment. In other cases, an employee’s hours may vary by week or include significant overtime, or he or she might have multiple part-time appointments that total more than 30 hours per week.
The Benefits Office will track hours worked so that employees can be notified and offered health care coverage if their average hours over time and across all jobs exceed the 30 hour per week threshold. Employees who meet the criteria for hours worked during one year will be able to elect coverage for the following year.
Employees who reduce hours or experience a break in service may also be able to re-enroll in health benefits for a period of time under ESR.
In early November, about 300 current employees received offers of health coverage that begins January 1, 2016. These offers were based on hours worked between October 2014 and October 2015.
Newly eligible employees will receive an email notification to enroll online through Wolverine Access. They will be able to choose from the university’s health plans and can cover dependents.
Retirees who return to work at the university on a temporary basis may become eligible for health benefits under ESR. These employees may accept or waive coverage, but they may not continue retiree health benefits during the period of time that they are eligible under ESR.
Additional information, including frequently asked questions and guidelines for employees and administrators, is available at hr.umich.edu/esr.