The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in March 2010. This comprehensive health-care reform law aims to expand Americans' access to affordable health-care insurance. 

What do UA employees need to know?

The existing health benefits meet the ACA's requirements for affordable employee coverage and benefit value and fulfill the requirement that individuals have health insurance coverage. Another option is to purchase health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the exchange, and possibly qualify for a subsidy. (You can’t receive a subsidy if you are eligible for health benefits through UA.) For more information on the options available through the exchange, please visit

What is the UA's responsibility to comply with the ACA?

Large employers (50 or more employees) like the UA incur penalties if they fail to offer health insurance benefits to all employees who average 30 or more work hours per week.

To comply with the ACA and ensure that all UA employees who average 30 or more work hours per week are offered health insurance benefits, it is imperative that UA departments and units monitor the employment of and hours worked by non-benefits-eligible employees. Departmental business officers and other administrative staff can contact the Division of Human Resources for more information and guidance.

To identify eligible employees for health insurance, the UA measures hours worked between mid-October of one year and mid-October of the next. Any employee who averages 30 hours in this period is offered health insurance for the following year, from January 1 to December 31.

Impact on UA: Adjunct Faculty

To comply with the requirements of the ACA, the University needs to have a clear baseline for determining what course load corresponds to full-time equivalents (FTEs) for career-track faculty whose only duties are teaching. While full-time course loads vary, the benchmark of 15 credits has been determined to be the equivalent of full-time status (1.0 FTE) for instructional faculty with no advising or other duties.

Using this baseline, each credit hour is the equivalent of 2.67 working hours, or .067 FTE. Instructors on semester-to-semester contracts may become eligible for employer-sponsored benefits under the ACA if they teach 11 or more credit hours in a single semester (the equivalent of .75 FTE). In some cases, departments may need to increase an instructional faculty member's FTE to take into account labs, studio courses, advising, outreach, or other departmental assignments.

Impact on UA: Student Workers

Student worker positions at UA are intended to support students while they pursue their education. Because these positions are not intended to be benefits-eligible or retirement-eligible positions, student workers may work up to a maximum of 25 hours per week during the academic year and up to a maximum of 35 hours per week during the winter and summer sessions.

Student workers averaging 30 or more work hours per week will become eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance under the Employer Mandate of the ACA. Therefore, it is very important that departments monitor student work hours diligently. Student workers who meet employer-sponsored health insurance eligibility requirements under the ACA will not be eligible to remain in student worker positions.

Impact on UA: Graduate Assistants/Associates

Graduate assistantships/associateships are not intended to be benefits-eligible employee positions. To remain eligible for graduate assistant/associate (GA) appointments, graduate students must average less than 30 work hours per week or a maximum allowable FTE of .66.

A GA hired at the .66 FTE appointment level may not receive additional supplemental compensation for the appointment duration. GAs at .50 FTE or less, however, may pursue additional supplemental compensation up to the maximum allowable .66 FTE.

To facilitate tracking GA supplemental compensation, home hiring units must sign off on any personnel action forms (PAFs) and supplemental compensation forms for GAs, as they do with faculty and appointed personnel.

Allowable hours for summer sessions will depend on the GA appointment during the academic year. In some cases, a graduate student will not be able to work more than 35 hours per week (.875 FTE) over the summer sessions without exceeding the 30-hour-per-week threshold for the year. A GA who maintains an FTE of .50 or less over the academic year may work up to 1.0 FTE over the summer sessions. For more information consult “Appointment Periods and FTE Information” in the GA Manual.

Hiring units are advised to check GA eligibility at UAccess Analytics > Dashboards > Business Managers Home Page > Retirement Eligibility and to consult with the Graduate College about any concerns. The staff in the Graduate College (Dorian Voorhees,, Rachel Nielsen,, and Julie Treanor, are available to assist departments to maintain compliance with the work hour requirements of the ACA.

Impact on UA: Ancillary Staff

Departments and units must continue to monitor the employment of and hours worked by ancillary employees to ensure they meet the criteria for non-benefits-eligible Part-Time, Temporary, or On-Call staff.

Ancillary staff members who are not initially eligible for benefits may become eligible for employer-sponsored insurance benefits under the ACA if they average 30 work hours or more per week over a 12-month period.

Individuals with prior employment at UA may be eligible for employer-sponsored insurance benefits upon rehire or a job change regardless of the new position's intended FTE or expected duration. For employees with a break in service of less than 6 months, the hours worked during the prior employment period must be considered at the time of rehire. Consult with Human Resources if you have questions in this hiring situation.

Monitoring Tools

University Information Technology Services (UITS) and the Division of Human Resources have developed two dashboards to assist departments with monitoring the employment of and hours worked by non-benefits-eligible and non-retirement-eligible employees, to ensure compliance with requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS). The following dashboards can be found on the Business Manager Home Page.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) dashboard. This dashboard displays any non-benefits-eligible employee who may be approaching benefits eligibility under the ACA as a result of working 30 or more hours per week. The dashboard does not average hours, but is designed to alert you of employees in your department who may be working more hours than intended. Additional information and instructions on using the dashboard.

Weekly Reported Time for ACA dashboard. Used in conjunction with the ACA dashboard, this dashboard displays the weekly reported time for non-benefits-eligible employees across all positions they hold. For exception time reporters, hours are displayed based on FTE.

Questions about the ACA

If you have any questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its implementation at the UA, please do not hesitate to contact the Division of Human Resources.  You may reach us at

Below are other contacts that may be able to help you answer questions about the ACA and the impact of the ACA on UA.

UA Contacts

Office of the Provost

Graduate College

Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid

Campus Health Service

State and Federal Contacts

Arizona Department of Administration, Benefits Options

Health Insurance Marketplace -

U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Do you need more assistance? 

Connect with HR Solutions
Phone: 520-621-3660