As a full-time employee of a business that employs more than 50 full-timers, you're virtually guaranteed to receive health insurance benefits through your employer. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, larger businesses are now required to provide health insurance to their full-time employees. While it's possible that some employees could see their hours reduced in response to this new requirement, it appears that most businesses have had little trouble adapting to the mandate.
While you're technically guaranteed to receive health insurance benefits through your employer, there are few safeguards or guarantees in place to ensure that these benefits are useful. In other words, your employer is not prohibited from offering you a cheap health insurance plan that may actually increase your out-of-pocket healthcare costs. In response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance companies have turned their focus to low-cost, low-benefit policies that fulfill the law's basic requirements without providing any additional perks.
Many of these policies don't even contain cost offsets for preventive care visits or generic prescription-drug purchases. What's more, these policies' deductibles routinely exceed $12,000. To make matters even worse, their coinsurance costs can amount to 50 percent of the total value of policyholders' post-deductible care. In other words, such a policy might only cover 33 percent of the cost of a $30,000 hospital stay. Since many people lack $20,000 in liquid savings, such a situation has the potential to be financially ruinous.
Fortunately, most employers shoulder a significant portion of their employees' health insurance premiums. There is no rule, law or accepted practice for such "employer contributions." These contributions are left to the discretion of the pertinent employer and may range between 1 percent and 100 percent. In fact, some low-margin employers may not make such contributions at all.
If you're new to a job and wonder about the size of your employer contribution, you should refer to your employee handbook. It's likely that this information will be listed clearly in the handbook's "benefits" section. However, these contributions are subject to change. As health insurance becomes more expensive, many employers are reducing or eliminating the value of their health-plan contributions. If you're unclear on the value of your employer's contribution, you may want to ask the human resources specialist in your department. Alternatively, you could look at the contribution figures for comparable companies. In general, low-margin companies tend to make smaller health-plan contributions than higher-margin outfits.