Health Care Reform
The Affordable Care Act requires most individuals in the United States (including children) to have some form of qualifying health insurance or pay a penalty in the form of a tax. In 2014, the penalty and requirements are as follows:
- $95.00 per person or 1% of income, whichever is higher. ($47.50 for a child)
- There is a cap for families, and the fee will increase in later years.
- Employer-sponsored health insurance, such as the medical coverage offered by Lowe’s, will satisfy this coverage requirement. Certain government-sponsored coverage, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the CHIP program (Children’s Health Insurance Program) will also satisfy the requirement for those who are eligible. Qualifying individual coverage will also count.
Lowe’s offers health coverage that meets the minimum standard. The part-time Mini-Medical plans are grandfathered plans and will qualify as minimum essential coverage through July 31, 2014. Please see the attached notice from Allstate regarding the part-time Mini-Medical plans.
Additionally, during Part-Time Annual Enrollment in June 2014, part-time employees will be able to enroll in a Preventive or Preventive Plus plan that will be effective from August 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. The Preventive and Preventive Plus plans both meet minimum essential coverage and will satisfy the individual mandate penalty. However, these plans may not meet the minimum value standard and therefore part-time employees could still be eligible for a subsidy if they choose to enroll in the state or federal marketplace. Please see the medical page for more information about these plans.
There will be an additional benefit option available during Part-Time Annual Enrollment in 2014, the Fixed Indemnity Plan. This plan provide cash benefits to help cover the cost of common medical services, such as ER visits, x-rays, hospital visits, and other services. However, this plan does not meet minimum essential coverage standards through the Affordable Care Act. If a part-time employee enrolls in ONLY the Fixed Indemnity plan and has no other qualifying health coverage, they will be subject to the individual mandate penalty. The state and federal marketplaces have an annual enrollment window as well. The next annual enrollment window will be in November 2014. Please note that outside of this annual enrollment window, the only time employees can enroll in the state or federal marketplace is with a healthcare.gov qualified status change. Please note that the qualified status changes for healthcare.gov are different from the qualified changes allowed by Lowe’s. The Mini-Medical plans will not meet the minimum standard required by the Affordable Care Act after July 31, 2014. Therefore, losing this coverage will not be considered a qualified status change.
Lowe’s understands that there may be many questions about the upcoming changes to the part-time medical plans. We encourage employees to visit Lowe’s benefits website, www.mylowesbenefits.com, for more information. Lowe’s has also provided an additional resource through GoHealth, an insurance exchange information provider, which can help employees understand the new plans and their options for coverage. Part-time employees can contact GoHealth at 1-855-414-6191 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, to discuss Lowe’s new medical plans and the qualified status changes that may allow them to enroll in the federal or state marketplaces.
Please see the Health Insurance Marketplace Notice for additional information regarding the marketplace, eligibility rules for Lowe’s benefits, and most details employees will need to assist with their application. Please also review the Health Care Reform frequently asked questions.
If you have visited the Healthcare.gov website and received an Employer Coverage Tool to prepare for your marketplace application, please click here. You will be directed to a list of completed forms based on your employment status and location. You can then select the form that applies to you and print a copy for your records.
For additional information regarding Health Care Reform, please visit the following: