Welcome to the world of Obamacare, part-time teachers! What you thought was going to be free, ended up screwing thee. You thought you were going to be immune from this monstrosity, just because you’re public employees. Didn’t turn out that way did it?McCoy Faulkner collects $81 a day as a substitute teacher in the Wake County Public School System. A mere sub, he has no benefits.
The 62-year-old former Raleigh police officer shells out $580 a month for an individual insurance policy, more than half his monthly pay. The full-time teachers for whom Faulkner fills in, however, are eligible for free health insurance, with no monthly premiums, through their employer.
That’s why Faulkner was looking forward to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, figuring he was the kind of person that the health care reform law was designed to help. Under the new law, anyone who works 30 hours or more a week for a large business will be eligible for employer-sponsored health care.
But instead of adding subs like Faulkner to its health care plan, the school system is looking for ways to avoid doing so. Wake is considering restricting its 3,300-plus substitutes to working less than 30 hours a week, effective July 1.
The reason: If just a third of the system’s subs were to qualify for employer-sponsored insurance, it would cost Wake schools about $5.2 million, chief business officer David Neter said.
There is an option. Just not the one he expected.
Those who can’t buy insurance through work will have a backup option: buying coverage through a health exchange. The Affordable Care Act even includes federal subsidies for people at certain income levels to offset insurance costs. The subsidies are available to individuals making as much as $45,960 a year, and for a family of four making as much as $94,200 a year – well within range for substitute teachers and Piggly Wiggly clerks.
Nearly 900,000 North Carolinians are eligible for these subsidies, according to a recent report issued by the N.C. Institute of Medicine, a nonpartisan research organization in Morrisville.
Health exchange details are not out yet, so Faulkner doesn’t know how that option will compare to the Wake schools plan, but he doubts the exchanges will be able to compete with the county’s health plan.
“People who need the benefits won’t be able to get in,” Faulkner said. “They were hoping they would be able to have insurance, which is what the law was designed to do.”
You can get insurance, Mr. Faulkner. You just have to pay for it. Before, you had the option of not buying it. Now you must. This isn’t your grandpa’s America, any more.