Faculty Member Loses Healthcare Coverage Under Obamacare

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by Jacob Waite
Freelance Writer

"Dr. X hasn't checked his office mail in two years," said the philosophy department's secretary. "I thought that was just one of the perks of tenure."
“Dr. Torgerson hasn’t checked his office mail in two years,” said the philosophy department’s secretary. “I thought that was just one of the perks of tenure.”

Topeka, KS – Administrators at Topeka University this week notified long-time philosophy professor C. Edward Torgerson that he will no longer qualify for group healthcare coverage from the university starting in 2014. The loss of healthcare coverage is blamed on the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers provide medical insurance only to full-time workers, defined as those employees who work at least 30 hours per week on average.

Executive Vice President for Administration and Human Resources Janice Young noted that as her office researched the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on campus, they discovered that certain faculty may not meet the definition of full-time worker. “We started looking at Professor Torgerson’s contribution to the university. We found that he teaches for three hours a day on Mondays and Wednesdays. On the bulletin board next to his office door, he lists three hours for student advising, committee work and committee meetings on Tuesdays, by appointment. At best we could figure out that he works about 10 hours per week if we factor in some time for grading and scholarship activities,” offered Young.

Professor Torgerson received tenure in 1979 and in recent years, his class evaluations and service to the university has been a point of contention. Freshman Emily Wahlberg commented that Professor Torgerson’s class was the best ever. “He cancels class like half the time and the other half it is just philosophy so he tells us there is no wrong answer because you just have to write whatever you think about and you’re always right – that’s what philosophy is. That dude is awesome!”

Faculty Union President and Associate Professor of Biology Jennifer Lukin commented, “Most of us thought Professor Torgerson retired several years ago. We hardly ever see him here. I can’t believe he is still getting paid, let alone getting health coverage.”

Young noted that the university was not taking disciplinary action against Torgerson as he actually meets the minimum requirements of his contract as a tenured faculty member. “The Affordable Care Act requires that we provide healthcare coverage to employees working 30 hours or more per week and we are committed to comply with the law. While it is unfortunate that Professor Torgerson is losing his insurance, many of our graduate students average more than 60 hours a week and don’t qualify for more than a $3000 living stipend and a drawer in the lab filing cabinet for essentials.”