With so many changes happening within the healthcare and health insurance industries, consumers sometimes struggle to keep up with the shifting options. And right now, many Americans aren’t taking full advantage of the health benefits available to them. Making things even more complicated are the various employment classes, with restrictions on what employees have available to them. If you’re just not quite sure about where to begin looking to find out if you have unused benefits or feel overwhelmed about shopping benefit options, you’re in luck. We’ll help you unravel the details to ensure you’re getting the absolute most out of your current health benefits.
Understanding the Different Employee Classes
There are different employee classes that, by definition, can warrant different health insurance benefits. And companies today are exploring new insurance offering options based on budgets and flexibility. For working Americans, understanding employee classes and company health benefits will ensure every available benefit is being leveraged. Here’s what every employee needs to know to better understand his or her employment class. You can then begin to explore any unused benefits.
What the Law Says
While there isn’t a law that requires an employer to provide the same benefit coverages to all employees, there is a legal requirement regarding bona fide employment-based classification. This means every employee within each class type is required to have the same benefits options. So, a full-time worker’s company insurance plan might differ from an exempt employee or a union contractor. But that same full-time employee will have the same benefits as other full-time employees, without discriminatory considerations. And based on the ACA-based options, including ICHRAs, there are some mandates available benefiting those employees buying health insurance via the marketplace.
Different Classes of Workers
Some of the more common employee classes include full-time, part-time, and seasonal staff. But other worker classes may group employees based on other similar situations, like geographic locations, union, and non-union, as well as former employees. Employers will use these similarities among teams to create benefits plans for each.
Know Your Class to Understand Your Benefits
Because of the pandemic, some Americans have changed employee classes and are now facing changes in benefits. Those who were full-time and salaried before the pandemic might now be part-time or seasonal. Before you can explore your options, make sure you know what employee classification applies to you. You can then confirm with your manager or Human Resources department what plan structure is applicable for your class. But even then, there could be additional health benefits you’re not yet leveraging.
The Four Big Employee Benefits
In addition to understanding your employee classification, it’s also good to know about the big four. There are four primary types of employee benefits that tend to be the most common as standard offerings from employers. And you should take a closer look at your current coverage to start identifying what you may not be fully taking advantage of right now.
The Big Four
Not all employers are required to offer all four of these types of core benefits. They are, however, called the big four because they are most commonly provided to workers. Medical insurance, life insurance, disability insurance options, and retirement plans are typical company offerings. Knowing what you have available will ensure you know precisely where to look when considering all your options.
Employer Requirements You Should Know
Employers are required to make certain concessions and abide by specific guidelines when it comes to offering employee benefits. If a health insurance plan is offered to one full-time employee, it must be offered to all full-time employees. And the IRS outlines a 90-day maximum waiting period. Companies must also provide staff with a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) to clearly outline costs and coverages. Make sure you have a good understanding of any timelines applicable to your situation, especially if you’ve experienced a change in employee class.
Know Which Are Available to You
Regardless of your employee class, there may be other benefits available to you. Some employers are required to offer short-term disability, for example. But others may have 401(k), education assistance, childcare benefits, or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs,) too. If you’re not sure which health benefits are available to you this year, follow up with your management. There could be additional benefit options at your disposal, regardless of your employee class.
Maximizing Your Employee Class Benefits
In order to really maximize your available benefits, you’ll need to take control of your healthcare efforts. There are more than likely a few key options that you’re not fully leveraging. Here are some benefits to consider that won’t cost you a dime.
Statistics often suggest that employers can save money over time by investing in wellness programs for staff. When employees are taking advantage of free gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, or other wellness options, they can prioritize their health ongoing. Maintaining healthy lifestyles based on some of these available wellness programs will translate to fewer sick days, better accountability, and positive company culture.
Preventive Care Coverage
Regardless of the health insurance plan your employer offers, you likely have access to free preventive care coverage. Dive into your plan’s details to verify your in-network providers and then follow through with making those routine appointments. Stay healthy by being proactive about annual doctor visits, preventive lab work, and age-appropriate scans.
Leveraging the HRA or ICHRA
If your employer offers an HRA or ICHRA, you probably already have a marketplace health insurance plan in place. But it’s worth exploring the ACA options based on the latest premium tax credit boost to see if you can leverage additional monthly premium savings. And consider looking into your HRA/ICHRA parameters to ensure you’re submitting every applicable receipt for reimbursement. These platforms will vary by employer, but some reimburse for monthly premiums, prescriptions, and other health-related out-of-pocket costs.
If you need help navigating the marketplace, especially now, to see if you qualify for additional premium tax credits, let W3LL help. Our services are free to consumers and can help you save money by tapping into every available discount.
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