Massachusetts leads the country in healthcare in many ways, with some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world. MA is also a leader in health insurance, with the health care reform law passed in 2006 requiring individuals to have insurance and most businesses to offer it. Today, group health insurance is not only an attractive employee benefit, but a requirement by both the state and federal government for many businesses.
Health care may be expensive. While some individuals may be able to afford basic health services out of pocket, chronic health conditions, serious injuries, and other health expenses may lead to financial devastation. For this reason, first the Massachusetts legislature and later the federal government passed mandates requiring individuals to have health insurance to help cover health care expenses. To facilitate this, businesses that meet certain criteria are required to offer affordable group health insurance as an employee benefit.
Some businesses are required to offer health insurance benefits to their full-time employees. The Commonwealth passed a sweeping health care reform law in 2006, from which the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) was modeled.
Under the ACA, employers with at least 50 full-time (working more than 30 hours per week) employees must offer health insurance coverage for full-time employees and their dependents. Dependent children must be offered coverage up until age 26. If insurance is not offered, is not affordable, or is substandard, and any employee uses a tax credit to purchase individual insurance via the Health Connector, the employer can be subject to fines. Employers must report subsidized health care costs on the employee’s W-2 form to promote transparency.
Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees may be able to utilize the Health Connector to purchase group health plans. Small businesses offering health coverage may be eligible for tax credits.
If you employ workers outside of Massachusetts, mandates from their residential states may also apply. Your agent may be able to help ensure that your policy meets all state and federal requirements.
An HMO has more restrictions, but may be more affordable. A PPO may provide your employees more flexibility in choosing their health providers, but may also incur more cost to your company and employees.
The premiums for these plans might vary based on a number of factors including deductibles, co-insurance, and co-pays. These have the ability be tailored to fit your budget and to meet the affordability provisions of the ACA.
Group health plans are an attractive benefit for employees, which might allow them to afford quality medical care for themselves and their families. It is suggested to work closely with your insurance agent to find a health plan that meets all Massachusetts and ACA requirements.