Q. I work for a large corporation that offers health insurance. It’s pretty expensive though, and I don’t feel I need it. I’m young, single and healthy, and I rarely go to a doctor. But I have heard that under Obamacare, companies like mine will force everyone to sign up. Is this true?
A: No. There’s a requirement that large employers offer affordable, minimum value coverage to their employees or face a potential tax penalty (this is the employer mandate). And there is also a provision that requires most Americans to maintain health insurance coverage or face a tax penalty (this is the individual mandate). But employees are never obligated to accept the offer of coverage that their employer makes.
However, you’ll be subject to the ACA’s individual mandate penalty (assuming you’re not otherwise exempt) if you go without insurance.
The ACA called for employers with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll employees into health plans offered by the employer, but with the provision that employees could opt out. However, the auto-enrollment requirement was repealed in 2015.
As long as the coverage your employer offers is affordable (premiums are no more than 9.56 percent of your income for 2018) and provides minimum value, your employer had fulfilled its ACA obligations, and you would not be eligible for a premium subsidy in the exchange if you decline the employer’s offer (if the coverage your employer is offering is not considered affordable and/or does not provide minimum value, then you would be eligible for a premium subsidy in the exchange).
Keep in mind that if you decline the offer of coverage from your employer, you won’t be able to change your mind on that until the next annual open enrollment period. So if you do end up getting seriously ill or injured in the middle of the year, you’d be out of luck. You would also be unable to enroll in a plan in the individual market at that point, as enrollment in those plans is also limited to a short window each year (and special enrollment periods, which require a qualifying event).