ACA Drives More Change for Higher Ed


The nextSource blog has produced a solid amount of coverage about both workforce management in the higher education industry as well as the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare if you prefer) in the last few months.  This is why editors here were interested to read about yet another way the ACA is impacting the day-to-day operations of nextSource clients at educational institutions. Read on for more on the latest ramifications of the ACA on higher ed.

According to the Associated Press, colleges and universities in numerous states are reaching similar conclusions: that insurance is cheaper for students on the ACA exchanges than it is through the student policies provided by the schools themselves.  AP reports, “The main driver of colleges getting out of the insurance business is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prevents students from using premium tax subsidies to purchase insurance from their college or university, according to Steven M. Bloom, director of federal relations for the American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C., group representing the presidents of U.S. colleges and universities.” 

Coupled with the law’s provision allowing children to stay on their parent’s policies until age 26 (a bit beyond typical college years), these changes are making it less sensible for universities to continue to provide these benefits.  As more states expand Medicare eligibility, analysts expect to see the trend towards sending students to the ACA exchanges continue. 

Whether or not this is a positive or negative development, there is bound to be another ramification for the composition of the workforce among schools, colleges and universities. With a significant administrative burden eliminated (benefits administrators and related staff) higher education organizations will surely need to adjust their staffing levels accordingly. While this may be problematic for those whose positions may be jeopardized by the trend, the overall outlook is solid for contract workers and contingent laborers.

A recent Staffing Industry Analyst report revealed that staffing industry revenue grew at a healthy rate of 10% in 2014 underscoring the noticeable uptick in hiring both among contractors and full time workers. The projections for 2015 are similarly positive and overall there seems to be growth in hiring across the board as evidenced by Q1 numbers just beginning to come out for this year.

All this data underscores a number of important things relevant to workforce management.  First, regulatory changes and environmental shifts will continue to affect the way business is done, leaving organizations to grapple with adaptation. Second, whether the labor market is expanding, contracting or simply changing, it is imperative to have a well-devised strategy and solution in place to accommodate any workforce-related needs as they emerge.

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