Colleges Skirt Obamacare By Cutting Adjunct Faculty Hours


by Brian McVicar

With about a year left before major portions of the federal health reform law take effect, colleges around the country – including Grand Rapids Community College – are looking for more guidance about how new regulations will affect adjunct instructors.

Specifically, the concern is over a provision in the act treating employees working 30 or more hours a week as full-time, thus requiring employer-assisted health care.

Considering that many in academe “talk more about credit hours and course loads than hours worked, more clarification is needed,” Craig Smith, director of higher education for the American Federation of Teachers, recently told Inside Higher Ed.

A Grand Rapids (Michigan) Community College spokeswoman agreed.

President Steven Ender, during a recent board of trustees meeting, said depending on how the law is implemented, the college could face significant costs associated with providing insurance for adjunct faculty.

The college, as of now, doesn’t offer insurance to its 600 or so adjunct faculty.

Kathy Mullins, executive deputy to the president, said the college is in the process of examining the law and how many adjuncts’ work-load approaches the 30-hour threshold.

She declined to comment further.

Fred van Hartesveldt, president of GRCC’s faculty association, said the number of adjunct faculty who work more than 30 clock hours per week is significant.

“If the health care act looks at clock hours, there will be a lot of adjuncts at over 30 hours a week,” he said. “I’m sure they would love to have health insurance, but I’m sure the college would not want to pay for that. So that’s going to be the issue.”

In a statement, Grand Valley State University spokeswoman Mary Eilleen Lyon said administrators are examining the law but have not taken any actions.

At least two colleges and universities – Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University in Ohio – have already created caps on the amount of hours their adjunct faculty teach to avoid fees associated with the affordable care act, according to Inside Higher Ed.

That was a blow to adjuncts because not only does it mean they won’t gain health coverage, it also means lower pay because they’re teaching fewer courses.

Originally posted to Used here with permission.


  1. Guy Taylor says

    What about adjuncts that have retirement and healthcare already provided? There is no option to refuse healthcare from the univ. We don’t need “extra” healthcare, just part time work…. NOw we are havign our hours and pay cut for something we don’t need.

  2. ERW says

    All those people that were so hyped about Obama, now you are getting the fruits of your now you are getting the fruits of your decision. Unfortunately,
    others have to suffer for their ignorance.

    1. P.D. Lesko says

      @ERW, this is NOT about Obamacare. It is about colleges and universities that are exploiting workers to squeeze a little extra money in order to pay a ballooning class of administrators who pull down six-figure salaries. Providing health insurance for 800 part-time faculty members @$300 per month for 8 months out of the year (adjuncts would be expected to enroll for COBRA during months in which they did not work) would cost $1.9M dollars for premiums in a year. You telling me a college with an annual budget of $100M can’t find 1.9 percent more money to pay for health insurance. A college with 5,000 students would have to charge each one $384 dollars more in tuition and fees each year. You telling me a college kid can’t come up with an additional $1,500 over 4 years? This is NOT about the money. This is NOT about Obamacare. This is about corporate GREED of the most disgusting kind. Colleges charge fees for sports facilities and charge fees for tickets to sporting events. Colleges should think about charging an adjunct faculty health care fee. Maybe reducing pay to administrators by 10 percent. Maybe by planting fewer tulip bulbs on campus, or reallocating a percentage of the money in the budget for full-time faculty compensation.

    2. Pamela Guthrie says

      Well aren’t you adopting an arrogant attitude? I am strongly for universal health care, but knew while watching the process of how the law was formulated that it would not work well as the forces opposed kept adding roadblocks and twisted provisions. As to being “hyped” about Obama, I think this is a telling comment on your part; the sarcasm shields your own personal agenda.
      So, I do not believe Obama is to blame, of course not as that would reveal a large ignorance of how the system works. Your arrogance does not serve you well.

  3. Edward Wiley says

    We should go ahead and make it total and complete. No more health care benefits for anyone from their employer. Then all Americans will be in the same predicament and national health care would be recognized as a common need for all Americans.

    The current system is a classic divide and conquer. When we are all in this together then the way forward will become very clear.

  4. Maky M. says

    I have news my friends, bad news! colleges and universities have always used adjuncts to cut their costs and they are not giving that up. Adjuncts are starting to get teaching loads reduced to the point that they are unable to claim the “benefits” of Obamacare.

    The gift that keeps on giving, isn’t?


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