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
Updated to include forthcoming amendments regarding coverage of children with hearing loss and coverage of mammograms.
Updated to include the repeal of the state's health benefit exchange law, effective July 5, 2017.
Updated to reflect the repeal of West Virginia's health benefit exchange law, effective July 5, 2017.
Updated to reflect amendments to certain mental health benefits, effective June 1, 2017.
Updated to incorporate amendments reflecting gender-neutral language in certain cancer-screening provisions, effective May 25, 2017.
A federal court in Massachusetts has approved a $7.5 million settlement in a case that accused Wal-Mart of discriminating against employees by denying health benefits to their same-sex spouses.
HR guidance on understanding the value of health care benefits.