Health Care and Adjuncts

Many part-time instructors at community colleges should probably pay a great deal of attention to the present debate over the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare. The U.S. House last week passed a bill to replace the ACA. Many Texas adjuncts have purchased health care coverage using the federal exchanges set up under Obamacare.

Here is an article on the situation regarding part-time instructors in the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Lee Gardner.

As reported widely in the media, the House bill in its present form will face an uphill climb in the Senate, particularly regarding coverage of pre-existing medical conditions (left to the states in the House bill) and funding for Medicaid, which provides coverage for the poor.

The most unpopular component of the ACA is the so-called individual mandate, compelling individuals to purchase insurance or face a financial penalty. Trouble is, without the mandate, revenue from younger, healthier people will not be there to pay for older and/or sicker individuals. Under the ACA, those with lower incomes receive subsidies to help pay for coverage. Those with higher incomes pay higher premiums, which are often very expensive.

Part-time employees under 65 with low incomes who presently get coverage under the ACA should probably be most attentive to the Senate version, if one materializes.

Health care constitutes a reported one-sixth of the U.S. economy, but the House bill received no committee hearings. The bill is opposed by organizations representing doctors and hospitals.

Insurance by definition is the sharing of risk. You are required by law to insure your house and car, for instance. But health care is such a gigantic, complicated, and integrated system that, when one component is affected, dominoes begin to fall in all directions. Young, healthy Americans often don’t see the need to spend money on something they will not use, as they see it. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, but this is a hard message to get through.

Those who receive coverage through their employer and those on Medicare (two categories combined representing the majority of Americans) may not be as intensely interested in this issue, adding another layer of complexity to the debate.