As of today, employers are not legally obligated to offer their employees health insurance coverage. Typically, however, companies which employ more than 50 workers will try and offer health benefits in order to attract and keep good employees. Sometimes businesses will only grant company health insurance to those employees who are full-time or work more than 35 hours a week . The questions of whether an employer should provide health insurance coverage then depends on how large the business is and what they do.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) requires the majority of employers who have group health insurance coverage give their employees the chance to temporarily continue their coverage. Employees are able to use the employer’s health policy if their own coverage stops because of a layoff, firing, or other “qualifying event.” Most group health care plans offered to employees through companies are bound to COBRA’s guidelines. Other kinds of companies bound to COBRA’s guidelines include partnerships, state and local governments, and tax exempt organizations.
The Health Care Reform Bill
As of January 1, 2014, the Health Care Reform Bill will require specific employers–“applicable large employers”–to offer health insurance coverage to employees or face paying a tax penalty. The definition of an “applicable large employer” is described in the bill as someone who employs 50 or more individuals on average. These businesses will also have to offer “minimum essential coverage” to employees, which is defined as:
- any plan or coverage offered in the small or large group market within a state (including small business exchanges)
- coverage under a grandfathered health plan, or
- a qualified governmental plan.
While a “grandfathered” health plan means being covered under someone else’s insurance plan, a qualified governmental plan would be Medicaid, Medicare, or Healthy Start for children.
Obtaining Health Insurance Outside Employment
If an individual is working for an employer who does not offer health insurance coverage, he or she can still acquire health insurance through a number of ways. A good way to start is to contact the local Department of Human Services and ask about health care programs that are available in the area. Sometimes, automobile insurance agencies will carry good health insurance programs in addition to car insurance, so you can always call them and speak to an agent about health insurance. Of course, the internet is also an excellent resource for finding appropriate health insurance companies.
Conditions of Employee-Based Health Insurance
Generally, there are certain conditions that need to be met when an employer offers an employee health insurance coverage. There might be a waiting period of anywhere from 30 days to three months before employees can take advantage of employer health insurance benefits, depending on the amount of hours worked per week or whether they have become permanent employees. With the institution of the new Health Care Bill, many more employers will have to offer their workers the ability to carry much-needed health insurance.