As an employer, your people are your greatest asset, so it is important to keep them healthy and happy. Providing healthcare coverage and other benefits not only allows you to stay legally compliant (when required), but it can also help you retain your team. While some employers may opt to offer certain benefits and perks voluntarily and deny others, the decision to do so may be influenced by cost among other factors.
Given the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows employers with religious or moral objections to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to employees, you may have some concerns about your own healthcare policies. Here are a few common questions and answers.
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Am I required to offer health insurance to my employees?
Depending on the size of your business and how many employees you have, you may be legally required to offer health insurance. For some employers, providing health insurance may be a voluntary decision. However, it is generally in the best interest (and in many cases required) of the employer to provide some sort of coverage. It is recommended that you work with a lawyer to determine whether you must provide health insurance, and if so, what benefits you must offer.
If you are required to offer health coverage, make sure you have the appropriate documentation outlining the details of your healthcare plan, so that your employees can make an informed decision during the open enrollment period. It is also important that your Employment Contract accurately reflects your health insurance offering.
If you decide to make changes to your healthcare policies after an employee has signed an agreement, consider making an Amendment to cover your bases. If you have questions about the requirements that apply to your business or how to change your policies while remaining legally compliant, ask a lawyer.
Can I change the healthcare coverage that I offer?
Regardless of your industry, it is good practice to review the various employee benefit offerings that are available well in advance of your open enrollment period. It is important for you not only to research which healthcare policies your business can afford to provide, but also to ensure that you are meeting the minimum provision requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other applicable federal laws. An employment lawyer can help you ensure that you remain compliant if you decide to alter or add to your offering.
If you decide to change your company’s health insurance provider or any of the benefits offered, it can be helpful for your Employee Handbook and your employee resources website to reflect those changes, as well.
Do I need to take any action as a result of the Supreme Court ruling?
If you do not wish to change your current healthcare policies, no direct action is required to continue offering birth control coverage to your team.
Are employees required to take the health insurance offered by an employer?
Employees are not required to buy into insurance plans offered by an employer. There could be a variety of reasons why an employee might decline the employer’s health insurance plan—They may already have coverage under a relative or spouse, or the employer plan may not provide as much coverage as they need. No matter the reason, an employee may decide to insure themselves.
What if my employer said they would provide health insurance, but they didn’t?
If you and your employer have signed an employment contract that says you will receive healthcare benefits, your employer must follow through on providing those benefits. This applies even if you are an employee who works at will. If your employer does not offer coverage when they are required to do so, they may be subject to penalties. You may also be entitled to bring a lawsuit if, after numerous complaints, they continue to refuse to provide you with the promised coverage. If you find yourself in this scenario, it is advised that you talk to a lawyer.
If your employer is not required to provide health insurance, or you are not eligible for the plan your employer offers, you may choose to self-insure. If you are shopping around for insurance providers, it is important to consider factors including out-of-pockets costs, policy premiums, network coverage, existing health conditions, and any upcoming medical procedures as you make your decision.
Ask a lawyer
It can be difficult to remain up-to-date and in compliance with new guidelines affecting employment law. If you have any questions about your existing policies, a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney can review your employment documents and explain what you should do to maintain legal compliance as an employer.