Health benefits have historically been an important part of employer-provided compensation and benefits packages. Issues related to the cost of health coverage have been a hot topic in labor negotiations for more than a decade. While prior negotiations have focused primarily on co-pays, co-insurance and other cost-sharing features, that dialogue will be different in current and future negotiations as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA includes several provisions that impact employer-provided insurance and union health plans. Although certain provisions of the ACA are already in effect, many plans subject to collective bargaining agreements will face additional requirements if or when they lose grandfathered status. In addition, other requirements of the ACA go into effect in 2014 and 2018. As a result, employers preparing to negotiate new collective bargaining agreements will be well-advised to understand the requirements of the ACA.
The affordability requirement applies only to individual coverage, not to dependent or family coverage. As a result, if an employer offers self-only coverage at a cost that meets the affordability requirement and the employer also offers dependent coverage, both the employee and the family members will be ineligible for the government subsidy regardless of whether the cost of the additional dependent or family coverage is affordable. Thus, employers who offer family coverage may impact dependent access to subsidized coverage in the exchange.