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Ask the Health Insurance Expert

I work for a trucking company that requires employees to sign up for one of the company's health insurance plans. Is that legal?

Yes, companies can require their workers to sign up for employer-sponsored health insurance benefits and pay their share of the premium.

Why?

First, such a requirement is not against the law.

Second, the company has a vested interest in its employees staying healthy. It wants to make sure workers have access to health care so they get the preventive care and treatment they need. People who don't get prompt medical treatment are likely to get sicker, and they run the risk of getting hit with unmanageable medical bills. Illness and stress can lead to poor performance, missed work and lost productivity -- all of which affect the company's bottom line.

Third, the insurance company might require a certain percentage of employees to participate in the group plan to ensure a large enough pool to spread the risk. Letting employees decline coverage can lead to adverse selection -- only the people with health conditions sign up for coverage. To create an affordable health insurance pool, a mix of participants is required.

In some cases a company might have its workers who decline coverage sign a statement that they have other health insurance coverage in place.

Evaluate the health plans your company sponsors to choose the right one for you. Consider what health care services you're likely to use and compare plans according to what they cover, their provider networks and how much you have to pay out of pocket for deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. Most employers pick up at least part of the tab for the premium. If you have to pay a portion of the premium, check how much your share would be for each plan, and choose one that provides the best coverage for what you can afford.

For more, see Hey, can my employer do that? The top group health insurance questions.

Last updated: Apr. 11, 2012
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