Large employers who don't cover their workers with affordable health insurance will face fines, though some employers go to other extremes of impelling workers to buy company health insurance whether they want it or not.
Many of the workers are not too happy about this, "My employer is requiring me to purchase health insurance and is automatically taking the premium out of my paycheck even though I don't want to sign up for health insurance. Is this legal?"
AdvertisementWhen a company has 100 or more full time workers, under the health law can be enrolled under company plans which have to be affordable and adequate. The employee contribution cannot be more than 9.5% of the federal poverty guideline, while the plan should pay for a minimum 60% of covered medical expenses.
"If you offer an employee minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value and is affordable, you need not provide an opt out," says Seth Perretta, a partner at Groom Law Group, a Washington, D.C., firm specializing in employee benefits.
In case the plan is below standard the employee should be given a choice to refuse the company cover and shop for insurance on the health insurance marketplaces where they can qualify for tax credits if they are eligible.
Those premium subsidies aren't available to workers whose employer offers good coverage that meets the law's standards.
Experts say they don't expect employers to strong arm their workers into buying health insurance. They - the employers, may be confused about their responsibilities under the health law, mistakenly believing that in order to avoid penalties they have to enroll their workers in coverage.
"That is just dead wrong," says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who's an expert on the health law.
"Nothing in the Affordable Care Act directs employers to make their coverage mandatory for employees," says a Treasury Department spokesperson. The law requires large employers "to either offer coverage or pay a fee if their full-time workers access tax credits to get coverage on their own in the marketplace."
When employers refuse to offer health insurance to employees they can pay a fine of $3000 per employee.
For employers, forcing coverage on their workers could be counterproductive. "Do you really want to limit employees' ability to select whether they get this coverage? What impact does that have from talent management perspective?" says Amy Bergner, managing director at human resources consultant PWC.
Automatic enrollment makes it simple to satisfy the health law's requirement that most people have health insurance, experts say.
According to the health law employers with more than 200 full-time workers are required to enroll newly hired full-time employees in a plan unless the employee specifically opts out of the coverage. However, the provision won't take effect until the Department of Labor issues regulations.
Source: Michelle Andrews
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