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Affordable Care Act

UVM Healthcare Update: The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brings sweeping changes to the American healthcare system. These changes are being phased in over a period of several years and most are unlikely to directly affect UVM faculty and staff who have healthcare coverage through the University.

It is important to understand that the University's coverage and eligibility are not changing. Those who have been covered will stay covered, and their eligibility for coverage will not change. Those who have not been eligible, will remain not eligible. (Although coverage and eligibility are not changing, rates will climb by roughly 3% on January 1, 2014, as communicated during Open Enrollment in May. This increase is associated with costs being passed on by the federal government to all individuals with private insurance coverage.)

Here's what you need to know now:

  1. On January 1, 2014, Vermonters who fit the eligibility criteria, including some UVM faculty, staff and temporary employees, may purchase healthcare coverage through Vermont Health Connect, (VHC, also called "the Exchange," or "the Marketplace"). Most UVM faculty and staff will find that staying with the University's healthcare coverage through BlueCross and BlueShield of Vermont will make the most sense for them in terms of coverage and cost, however a small percentage of individuals may find that their particular situation makes purchasing coverage through VHC a better value. It is reasonable for those who think they may realize a cost savings through the Exchange to go to the VHC website to shop cost and coverage. (Individuals who are not eligible for healthcare coverage through an employer or family member will need to consider purchasing coverage through the Exchange.)
  2. On October 1, 2013, VHC will publish the plans and rates that will be available on January 1. From October 1 forward, Vermonters will be able to shop online and compare coverage and rates. As we've indicated, most UVM faculty and staff who are offered healthcare coverage through the University will find that the UVM plan provides the best combination of coverage and cost, but individuals should check the VHC website and verify that for themselves.

Those who wish to continue their present BlueCross and BlueShield of Vermont coverage through the UVM plan do not need to do anything—their coverage will continue as it is.

The frequently asked questions and answers below are designed to help you and your family get a handle on the current situation. As always, this page will be updated as new questions arise. (If you have additional questions related to the Affordable Care Act, e-mail HRSinfo@uvm.edu.)

Questions and Answers

Can I get a copy of the ACA letter that was sent to UVM faculty and staff in early October?

The letter that was mailed to faculty and staff was personalized on the last page to indicate to individuals whether they are eligible for UVM healthcare coverage, and, if so, what their cost for single person coverage would be. Here is a copy of the letter without personalization.

I have healthcare coverage through UVM. Do I need to do anything at this point?

No, if you have healthcare coverage through UVM, your coverage is not changing and you do not need to do anything. If you do not have coverage, you will want to go to the VHC website and shop for coverage that can begin as early as January 1, 2014.

I have family coverage through UVM. Why did the letter I received quote my cost for employee-only coverage? Is the University going to stop covering families on their healthcare plan?

The University has no plan to stop covering family members. The federal government stipulated that the letter sent to faculty and staff in early October should list the cost of single person (employee-only) coverage, to simplify the process of comparing costs between various plans.

What are the tax implications of purchasing healthcare coverage through Vermont Health Connect?

Payment toward employer-provided coverage is made with pre-tax dollars, meaning that the premiums are exempt from state and federal income tax. Payment toward coverage purchased on the Exchange is made with after-tax dollars, meaning that the premiums are subject to state and federal income tax.

I have family coverage through UVM. How can I find the actual cost of my coverage?

Faculty and staff on the UVM healthcare plan can find the actual cost of their healthcare coverage on their paycheck in PeopleSoft. (If you need help finding your paycheck in PeopleSoft, read the Mini-Manual entitled Understand Your Paycheck.) On your paycheck, find the "Before-Tax Deductions" box. Look for the description that begins with MED. This is the amount you paid for your medical insurance coverage on your last paycheck. (To see the amount paid by UVM, look for the description that begins with MED in the "Employer Paid Benefits" box.)

To find your monthly healthcare contribution, individuals who receive a biweekly paycheck should multiply the "MED" amount shown in the "Before Tax Deductions" box by 26, then divide by 12. Individuals who receive a semi-monthly paycheck can simply multiply the amount shown by 2.

Am I required to have insurance?

Starting in 2014, most individuals will be required to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. This provision of the healthcare reform law is often called the individual mandate because it has the effect of requiring individuals to have health coverage. If you are covered under the UVM healthcare plan, or if you are covered by a government program such as Medicare, you can continue to be covered under that plan/program.

If you simply elect not to have health insurance in 2014, you may be subject to a penalty from the federal government. (The indication is that the penalty will be assessed when you file your federal income taxes.)

  • The penalty in 2014 is 1 percent of your yearly income or $95 per person for the year, whichever is higher.
  • In 2014 the penalty for uninsured children is $47.50 per child.
  • In 2014 the most a family will pay in penalties is $285 for all members.
  • Penalties increase every year you are not covered by insurance.
  • Penalties may be waived under certain circumstances.

Where can I learn more about my healthcare coverage through UVM?

There is a wealth of information in the Summary of Healthcare Benefits and Coverage, as well as in the Benefits Open Enrollment document. For even more information, visit the Benefits Information page on the HRS website.

Where can I learn more about how the Exhange works?

In addition to the Vermont Health Connect website, try the US government site at HealthCare.gov.

What if I have questions or need more information?

If you have additional questions related to the Affordable Care Act, e-mail HRSinfo@uvm.edu.

 

Last modified September 25 2014 06:48 PM