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The ACA (Public Law 111-148) was implemented on March 23, 2010, to increase access to health care for more Americans. This comprehensive legislation impacts the commercial health insurance market, Medicare and Medicaid.

Key ACA Terms

Full-Time Employee

Under the ACA, an employee working 30 or more hours per week is considered full-time. A new employee who is reasonably expected to work full-time (30+ hours per week) for 90 days or more beginning on his/her hire date, is considered benefit-eligible based on ACA rules.

Variable Hour Employee

A new employee is considered a variable hour employee if, based on the facts and circumstances at the start date, it cannot be determined that the employee is reasonably expected to work on average at least 30 hours per week for 90 days.

Measurement Period

The Measurement Period “or look-back period” is a safe harbor method allowing employers to measure hours worked over a 12-month period by variable-hour employees to determine if these employees should be considered full-time employees, without the employer being subject to a payment under § 4980H for this period.

Stability Period

The period of time a variable-hour employee who worked on average 30 hours/week during the measurement period would be treated as a full-time employee regardless of the number of hours worked by that employee during the stability period, as long as the individual remains an employee. The stability period cannot be less than the measurement period (12 months).

Administrative Period

Provides a period of time for the employer to evaluate benefit-eligibility and for the employee to complete the benefit enrollment process. Usually a one-month period after the measurement period.

Employment Considerations

Texas A&M University System is the common employer because of the umbrella benefit plan; therefore, all hours worked at A&M System Agencies and Institutions are factored into benefit eligibility determination.

Dual employment agreements are critical with departments working together for an awareness of hours worked in each position for employees holding multiple positions.

The measurement period applies to all employees, but only those in variable-hour positions are being reported. If an employee moves from a budgeted, benefit-eligible position to a variable-hour or non-benefit eligible position, the hours work during the look-back measurement period will be considered for benefit determination.

Breaks in Service

It is important to recognize Texas A&M University System is the overall employer because all System Agencies and Institutions are covered under the same benefit plan. Therefore, previous employment including working at another System Agency or Institution may impact benefit eligibility under the ACA rules.


The duration of the break in service between the previous employment and the date of rehire will determine the impact on the current measurement period for the rehired employee.

Length of break: Impact Break in service of MORE than 26 weeks
Impact: Treat as a new hire. Restart and begin new measurement period.

Length of break: Break in service between four to 26 weeks with amount of prior employment GREATER than break in service
Impact: Continue existing measurement and stability periods, but do not count break against employee (will average by smaller number of months to exclude the break in service)

Length of break: Break in service between four to 26 weeks with amount of prior employment LESS than break in service
Impact: Treat as new hire - restart and begin new measurement period

Length of break: Break in service LESS than four weeks
Impact: Continue existing measurement and stability periods. Factor in zero hours during the break.

Active Employees

Active employees who are in a leave status should not have the following types of leave counted against them during the measurement period.

  • FMLA eligible leave
  • Jury duty
  • Military leave
  • Educational breaks (example summer months)

Instances where the above types of leave apply will have the number of months or weeks used for the average shortened accordingly when calculating the average.