Obamacare vs. Employer Insurance: Which is Better?

Ever since Obamacare was introduced, employees have been debating whether or not their employers’ insurance plan is the best option for obtaining affordable healthcare coverage. Although employees may have the ability to comparison-shop for better coverage plans among the new online exchanges, there are still plenty of nuances involved in the selection process. As a result, trying to sift through all the available options and picking the best plan to suit your particular situation can be a tedious task.

Although the new healthcare exchanges under Obamacare will be accessible to everyone, the marketplace will operate through two different sites, depending upon where you live. In 34 states, the exchanges will be available on HealthCare.gov, a federally-run website. However, 16 states, including the District of Columbia, will operate their own independent exchanges. Regardless, even if your employer already provides health coverage, there are no rules saying you can’t purchase coverage on your state’s exchange.

If employees decide to abandon their employers’ plan and enroll in coverage through the new marketplace, they may not be eligible to receive some of the benefits provided to the uninsured. The only instance where employees could be deemed eligible for receiving government subsidies is when their employer’s coverage is determined unaffordable or inadequate under the new healthcare law. Because these subsidies help people pay for their insurance, they are one of the most attractive incentives available with the new state exchanges.Keep in mind, employees earning over $40,ooo annually, won’t likely qualify for subsidies.

Opinions differ when it comes to choosing the best coverage plan for employees. According to E. Denise Smith, a professor of health care management at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C., there really would be no advantages to abandoning healthcare plans provided by employers. She also mentioned that employers would not be required to offer payment assistance if their employees opted for an exchange plan.

A senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt, expressed a similar point of view. He believes that employees may not be able to find better coverage than their work-based plan among the new marketplaces. Additionally, he advises employees to thoroughly evaluate their current employer-based plans, and consider factors such as whether or not dental and vision care are covered. Obamacare plans are not required to cover dental and vision.

In regards to employee eligibility for Obamacare, many of the requirements imposed on employers had been postponed until 2015. However, companies were still expected to offer notice to their employees no later than Oct. 1, letting workers know whether or not their current coverage would be viewed as affordable under the new law. Despite this expectation, the U.S. labor Department said that employers would not be charged with penalties for failure to notify their employees. Regardless, the delayed employer mandates will require businesses with a workforce of at least 50 full-time employees to provide health coverage to their workers, as well as their dependent children, in 2015. However, employers will not be obligated to offer insurance to workers’ spouses.

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