Obamacare will have little impact on Horry County, Myrtle Beach employees

jrodriguez@thesunnews.comOctober 12, 2013 

The Affordable Care Act will impact about 19 employees in Myrtle Beach government and 17 employees for Horry County, creating some full-time positions on the city’s side and costing each government body upwards of $90,000.

In April, the county began monitoring part-time and temporary employee’s hours to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. In August, the county sent a Plan Summary of Benefits to its employees as well as the Initial Notice, which all employees have received or will receive to notify people of the health care marketplace.

Myrtle Beach has been studying its impact for a while, as well.

“The Affordable Care Act required a reinsurance fee set-aside of $64 per covered person this year. For the city, that meant a new expense of $96,000 this fiscal year,” said Mark Kruea, spokesman for Myrtle Beach. “However, the fee declines in future years, so that cost will decrease. That’s really the only city expense directly attributable to the ACA.”

Kruea said while the city prepared for this year’s budget, officials realized that 19 people consistently worked more than 30 hours a week as part-timers.

“Crunching the numbers, it made more sense to convert those to full-time positions and get the benefit of their extra work,” he said. “Other options would have been to cut back on part-time hours and accomplish less, or cut back on hours and hire additional temporary staff. But the best way to get the work done at the most economical cost was to convert those positions to full time.”

Of the 19 positions for the city, 16 were in recreation, two were in parks and one was at Whispering Pines Golf Course, Kruea said.

Patrick Owens, director of human resources for Horry County, said the county thinks the impact is going to be minimal. Horry County government pays 100 percent of the employee’s coverage. The annual health premium per employee is about $5,335 for the county.

“The potential impact that the county would incur, based on that analysis, is about $90,000,” Owens said. “The silver lining in that is that if you look at that analysis, it doesn’t include any general fund money. Another upside is, affected departments have enough time to adjust their operations to accommodate that as well.”

Among the 19 positions this could impact in the county, 14 are part-time recreation employees, two in the airport department and one part-time pre-trial intervention employee.

Owens said the county has had a policy in place for about 10 years that limits the amount of time it can use a temporary employee to six months. He said considering the plan was bumped to start in 2015, the county has time to adjust what it can to reduce the impact to almost nothing.

“If it’s managed properly, we won’t have any cost,” Owens said.

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him on Twitter @TSN_jrodriguez.

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