Thousands of state employees will be newly eligible for mandated health insurance coverage this January, courtesy of Obamacare. This has presented an additional challenge to state budget writers of how to pay for their coverage.
The issue has been a concern for months, as state agencies must absorb the cost of covering temporary employees who work 30 or more hours a week. The category could include as many as 24,000 employees statewide, though that number may be reduced significantly once state agencies determine their personnel needs and workers’ eligibility under federal guidelines.UNC estimates 8,600 work in the university system.
The Senate budget allows the UNC system to go it alone and put out bids for its own plan for these workers, which include graduate student teaching assistants, postdoctoral fellows, student workers, library employees and others. The House budget requires that all employees in the category statewide be covered under a new option in the State Health Plan.
The decision has put UNC at odds with the State Health Plan and the State Employees Association of North Carolina, which have both opposed the university system’s authority to carve out a segment of their workers for a separate plan.
Early on, UNC Board of Governors members feared that the new federal requirement would cost the university system $47 million — based on the State Health Plan’s$5,500 annual cost for other state employees.
The $47 million cost may be roughly cut in half depending if the UNC system decides to enroll their newly eligible employees in the State Health Plan or a separate plan.