We are quickly approaching the annual open enrollment period for health insurance benefits. Whether your client provides health insurance or not, employees need to know what this is all about. They also need to begin preparing for open enrollment now. You can help by educating your clients about this important topic.
Open enrollment for federal insurance marketplace plans runs from November 1 through December 15. Private insurance companies may have their own enrollment dates, but most tend to follow federal open enrollment. That means your company, at the time of this writing, is not far away from the start of the annual health-insurance enrollment season.
Employees without Company Insurance
Your clients may not be required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to offer qualifying health insurance. Alternatively, they might offer insurance but still have employees not eligible to enroll. At any rate, they may have employees without company insurance. They need to know about enrolling in a marketplace plan.
Once again, open enrollment for federal marketplaces begins November 1. That gives workers roughly 6 weeks to log on and choose an appropriate plan. Employees should know that there is no grace period extended beyond December 15. If they have not enrolled by then, they cannot purchase coverage for 2020 except under two conditions:
- They qualify for special enrollment period due to a significant life change; or
- They qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Employees should also understand that the amount they pay for health insurance through a federal exchange will depend on household income. Exchanges offer different policies for different needs, all meeting minimal federal requirements.
Employees with Company Insurance
Your clients with company health insurance also need to get prepared now. First and foremost, they need to be made aware of any changes to their current healthcare plans set to kick in next year. If there are changes in coverage, premium amounts, deductibles, etc., they need to know so that they can make an informed decision.
In terms of mandated coverage, employees should be made aware that the individual mandate for health insurance was eliminated as of the 2019 tax year. That means health insurance is no longer required by federal law. Some employees may wish to drop their coverage for financial reasons or because they are covered under someone else's policy.
Other Health Coverage Options
If your client offers a high deductible health insurance plan that meets certain requirements, it is allowable under federal law to also offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). This could be a valuable option to employees preferring to spend less on health insurance and more out-of-pocket.
Now is the time to start talking HSAs with your clients. Give them all the information they need to know and understand what the accounts are and how they work. Make sure they understand federal contribution limits, what HSA funds can be spent on, and so forth.
Perhaps your client is eligible to offer HSAs but has not done so as of yet. Now is a good time to find out what the law says. They might be able to help their employees a great deal by giving them the HSA option. At the very least, it never hurts to look into it.
Open enrollment for 2020 is just about here. Are your clients prepared? Do they know what they need to know to make informed decisions? Now is the time to start getting the information together. The more everyone knows about open enrollment, the better prepared all will be on November 1.