If employees haven’t come to you with questions about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) affect on them, get ready … they’re coming. Want to know what they’re going to ask? 

In a recent survey to gauge how single-employer plans are being affected by the ACA, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, a nonprofit research and education organization, asked employers to submit the most common questions their HR and benefits staff have been receiving from employees about the law.

More than 600 employers responded to the query.

Here are the top 10 questions employers were approached with — along with ways you can respond:

1. How do the exchanges work? Am I eligible? Are they free? Could I qualify for a subsidy? How does exchange coverage compare to my current coverage?

Answer: The exchanges act as an insurance agent of sorts, allowing employees to shop for plans that meet their needs. And yes, everyone can to use them. But whether or not employees get a subsidy depends upon a number of things — like whether or not you offer them coverage, the level of that coverage and their income.

2. How does the law affect me? Do I need to do anything?

Answer: The biggest effect is that individuals are now forced to have insurance or pay a penalty. And if you’re offering them coverage that meets the law’s minimum requirements, they don’t have to do anything.

3. What will this cost me? Why are my costs going up?

Answer: Just about the only cost figures you could reasonably present them with are your health plan’s premiums and cost-sharing information. As for why costs are increasing, it’s because the cost to treat people in general is increasing, and insurers are accounting for that.

4. Is the company planning to drop coverage?

Answer: Only you can say for sure.

5. How will our benefits change? Are the changes because of health reform?

Answer: Chances are your plan underwent some changes over the past year — or you’re planning changes for 2015. Be prepared to explain what they are and the reasons behind them.

6. Can my child stay on the plan longer?

Answer: Starting in 2010, the health reform law mandated that plans’ coverage to dependent children be extended until they turn 26. But beyond that, nothing has changed in this area as far as federal law is concerned.

7. Do I have to get coverage if I don’t have it now? When will there be an open enrollment opportunity?

Answer: Again, individuals are required by law to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty. The exchanges will open again this November. You’ll also want to be prepared to share your plan’s next open enrollment period begins.

8. Will I have an average of 30 hours per week and qualify for benefits in 2015?

Answer: If they don’t qualify for your company-sponsored plan, they can always obtain health coverage on the exchanges in November.

9. Are we dropping spousal/dependent coverage?

Answer: Again, by law, dependent children must be allowed to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26. However, employer plans are not required to cover spouses. But be prepared to share whether you will or not.

10. How does the law impact the future of the company?

Answer: This is a broad question, and one only you can answer. But if you don’t plan to make any drastic changes as a result of the law, share that with employees. It’ll help put them at ease.

(In an earlier post on this survey, we revealed the cost containment measures employers said they’re making as a result of the ACA).

Source:2014 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA’s Impact,” by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

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