Health Insurance Pig

A national survey of employers finds that nearly 1 in 6 companies plans to offer health coverage that doesn’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for value and affordability.

Employers Avoid ACA Penalties with Skinny Health Insurance Plans

In a survey recently released by the National Business Group on Health, 16 percent of large employers said they will offer in 2015 so-called “skinny” plans along with at least one insurance option that qualifies under ACA standards. In this way, employers can shield themselves from health law penalties by offering insurance that meets tests for affordability and value — regardless of whether anybody signs up for the ACA qualified plan.

Skinny Health Insurance Plans Favored by Lower-Wage Workers

Workers can avoid the ACA’s individual penalty (the greater of $95 or 1 percent of their income) by enrolling in a company skinny plan, which qualifies as “minimal essential coverage” for individuals under the health law by the mere fact that it’s employer-sponsored. Low-cost, low-benefit plans tend to be offered by hotels, restaurant chains and other lower-wage industries, where workers are not attracted to using a lot of their paycheck for coverage.

Coverage Minimal with Skinny Health Insurance Plans

Although skinny plans shield workers from the individual mandate penalty, they tend to offer little coverage.  Some skinny plans cover preventive care and nothing else — no inpatient or outpatient hospital treatment. Also, by offering an ACA-compliant plan, their employers disqualify them from getting subsidized insurance through HealthCare.gov or other online exchanges — even if they don’t sign up for the company policy.