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 a forthcoming provision regarding preventive health care services.
Updated to include a forthcoming provision regarding gross misconduct.
Updated to include information on IRS Letter 226J tax penalty notices regarding ACA pay or play penalties.
Updated to include forthcoming employer health care coverage form requirements.
Updated to reflect a delay in the ACA Cadillac tax.
The start of a tax on "Cadillac" health plans has been delayed from 2020 until 2022.
HR guidance on understanding the value of health care benefits.