But if employers don’t offer “comprehensive” policies - defined as covering at least 60 percent of health expenses - they must pay $3,000 for each worker who receives subsidies to buy coverage. Opinions differ on whether skinny plans will be able to pass the comprehensive test; some regulations are still pending. But employers see that potential expense as far lower than the cost of offering all their workers more robust coverage, experts said.
Some businesses are also betting that few workers will go to the government-run marketplaces to seek subsidized coverage, opting instead for the skinny plan “which costs less than the penalty,” said Dania Palanker, senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Signing up for a company skinny plan would fulfill a consumer’s obligation to be covered under the health act and protect her from the law’s fines.
Advocates are still pressing employers to offer more comprehensive policies.
“People need to be covered for hospitalizations,” said Mitts of Families USA. “It’s important for employers to do the right thing and they should not just look at the minimum requirements of the law.”
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Fri, Aug 23 2013