I am a veteran receiving VA health care. For the past two years I have been able to waive employers insurance because of my VA. I have been notified that I can no longer waive the insurance and will have to pay over $600.00 a month just for myself from my fringe which at this time goes into 401K. I have been told that I have no choice. I will lose my monthly contribution to my 401K. If I am no longer covered by the VA under Obamacare I would like to enroll in a more affordable plan and continue to contribute to my 401K.
* Can my employer force me to accept their insurance? The company is a military contractor in TX.
* Who can I contact to help me with this issue?


Answer

Under the employer mandate no employer can force an employee to accept coverage, an employer may have to offer, but the employee can always decline. In your case you have VA coverage that counts as minimum essential coverage, thus you don't have to take your employer coverage.

In regard to you losing your 401k contribution, your 401k shouldn't be tied to your coverage? Not sure what benefit this has to your employer beyond the tax benefits for offering coverage... but even then it's more expensive to pay then it is not to. They could be confusing their requirement to offer coverage with your requirement to take it. Unfortunately without more specifics it's hard to give a concrete answer here.

We suggest talking to your employer first (HR department) and having them explain to you exactly what they mean here. If you feel you are being wronged you can try filing a complaint http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/fepa.cfm (eeoc handles workplace discrimination, a situation like this could fall under that category. Of course we strongly suggest simply talking to your employer first). Also a lawyer, tax professional, or financial advisor may be able to help you understand the issue further.

 

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Contractor on

Actually, I think the original answer is off the mark; if the benefit is employer-paid, then they absolutely can use is for mandatory health insurance.

If your company is a military contractor, it’s highly likely that they are using the Service Contract Act “health and welfare” benefit dollars as an employer contribution that covers the entire cost of an individual health care policy. You think of it as your fringe, but more accurately it is the employer’s benefit to spend on your health and welfare as the employer sees fit in accordance with the SCA and ACA.

It sounds like they they “sweep” the remaining amount of any employer contribution, post health ins. premium, into a retirement account, instead of paying it out as cash. This is the most conservative way of SCA H&W compliance, though there also are many contractors that pay the remainder out as “cash in lieu”. This also is compliant, but the IRS has signaled that it may do away with permitting this practice.

If my assessment of your scenario is accurate, then mandatory enrollment that is paid for by the employer is 100% legal and an increasingly common practice because it is fully SCA-compliant in the most conservative reading of that law and lowers everyone’s healthcare costs.

Scott on

I am in a similar situation. Been looking for information to confirm my thoughts. Been employed by a contractor at a major city Airport. Our wages and benefits are supplemented by federal tax dollars. For the past 9.5 years we can either choose health care or 401. I have tricare, so I took the 401. New contract for 2016 for our employees with tricare, VA services and Medicare if we have to take health plan. Would like to locate in ACA in writing on this info. I am still eligible for tricare and va. You should still be eligible for va.

darrel forney on

Should we be exempt since we are part of the va not Tricare and the Va is compliant with the aca. I had thought the Va exemption was still in effect. Please explain. Also its a government contractor with fringe benefits. They say that their medical would be too high per person and now forces everyone including Tricare and medicare to enroll. I feel since I am with the va I shouldn’t have to.

Amber Banks on

My current employer has always offered what is called a Wage Differential Option. As an employee, I was able to opt out of all benefits including PTO and health care coverage and in turn was able to be paid 15% more. I have been told that due to the ACA, this option will no longer be available. Can you shed some light on this please? I have have health care coverage through my husband’s employer as part of his family coverage plan. Thanks!

Olivia Addison on

I too have the same issue. My contract says I have to take their insurance but I have Tricare prime due to my husband being active duty. I was on the insurance with my company before we got married but dropped it once I got Tricare. The companies insurance would not cover most of my medications and doctor visits were $90 co-pay every time.

Regina Matthews on

You are obviously a Service Contract Act employee and that is where this question is coming from. I would suggest you read the SCA to help you understand why your fringe benefit is now going towards company health insurance. In a nutshell, the employer gets to choose where they spend the fringe benefit. As long as it is a bono fide fringe benefit it is legal.