Overview: Health care benefits are an important part of the overall compensation package and employee benefit program that employers use to attract and retain workers. Employees value health care benefits because they soften the financial impact of a catastrophic, unanticipated illness or injury.
Employees are typically provided an opportunity to participate in the employer's group health plan. Eligibility for participation may depend on a number of factors including working for a required period of time and/or an individual's employment status (e.g., full time or part time).
Most health care benefit packages include medical and prescription drug coverage, but many employers offer more comprehensive packages that include dental and vision benefits as well. Basic health insurance covers costs related to hospital care, including hospitalization, inpatient surgery and doctor fees related to the hospitalization.
Trends: The requirements of the Affordable Care Act pose some real challenges for HR professionals, and its requirements have a significant impact on how both employers and employees view health care benefits.
Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
The US Supreme Court declined to review challenges to three federal appeals court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, which also cleared the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Bans also fell in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.
As mandated by the State of New Jersey, Department of Banking and Insurance, New Jersey employers with covered, eligible employees must distribute a copy of the New Jersey Continuation Coverage Rules form.
Effective January 1, 2015, Wal-Mart will stop providing health insurance to part-time employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week.
A federal district court upheld Louisiana's statute and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, while a Louisiana state court ruled that these laws are unconstitutional.
An Oklahoma federal judge ruled in State of Oklahoma v. Burwell that Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium subsidies are illegal for individuals who purchase health insurance coverage through the federal exchange.
On October 1, the Departments of the Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services published final rules regarding excepted benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and Public Health Service Act (PHSA), as amended by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The rules specifically cover vision and dental benefits and employee assistance program (EAP) benefits.
The value of health insurance benefits provided to an employee's same-sex spouse or partner and their dependents is taxable in Louisiana.
Employers seeking to advise employees who is eligible to participate in medical and dental insurance, whether and to what extent coverage may extend to spouses and other family members and when benefit selections should be made should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Employers seeking to advise employees of the different forms of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) that they offer should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance permitting employers to allow employees to revoke their election of employer-sponsored health care coverage under a § 125 cafeteria plan in order to purchase coverage in a health insurance exchange (or marketplace) established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
HR guidance on understanding the value of health care benefits.