School district reviews insurance

Federal and state requirements for employee health care were discussed extensively at the East Lycoming School Board meeting held Tuesday evening.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that the district offer health benefits to all employees who average 30 hours of work per week throughout the year. However, implementing the standard in a school environment may present challenges, according to David Maciejewski, district business manager.

The district had previously defined full-time employment as someone who works 25 hours a week or more. The difficulty comes with part-time or temporary employees who may work, say, 20 hours a week as a substitute, but another seven hours a week as an athletic coach, Maciejewski said.

“When the hours for those activities are combined, that would put them over the 30-hour mark. So we will be required to now offer those individuals health care,” he said.

If an employee averages 30 hours a week during the school year, but does not work during the summer, they still will qualify as a full-time worker, he added.

Augie Sassella, of Banyan Consulting, presented information to the board explaining what the new regulations require and what the district’s options are, in order to make a program that will be in compliance.

Sassella estimates that the district has about 20 employees who will fall into this new category of health plan members. By law, the health care plans offered must cover at least 60 percent of a person’s out-of-pocket medical expenses, and cannot cost more than 9.5 percent of that person’s household’s income.

While the new regulations won’t come into full effect until Jan. 2015, Sassella urged the board to begin planning now, as the district’s actions will effect the other members of the Lycoming County Insurance Consortium, which is comprised of the county’s eight school districts and Lycoming College.

“However you’re covering those potential full-time employees, that will effect everyone in the consortium. It’s important that we try and get everyone on the same page,” Sassella said.

In light of the new regulations, the district will be sending out letters to all of their employees, which will explain the new health insurance options, Maciejewski said.