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Is your employer required to provide dental and health coverage?

Find out if your employer is required to offer health or dental coverage, and how to find coverage if you’re excluded.

Employer-sponsored health insurance is the main source of coverage for Americans — over half of the population is covered by employer-sponsored health plans.

Medical coverage is a big perk that most Americans look for when applying for new jobs. But only some companies are legally required to offer their employees medical coverage. And that requirement doesn’t include a dental or vision plan, either.

So how do you know if the company you’re interested in (or your current employer) is required to provide an insurance plan? The answer can depend on a few factors, including company size and whether you’re a full- or part-time employee.

Keep reading to find out if your employer is required to offer health or dental coverage, and learn how to find coverage if you’re excluded from an employer plan.

Is my employer required to offer health coverage?

All employers are lawfully required to provide certain employee benefits. These benefits including time off to vote, workers’ compensation, disability and — in some cases — health insurance plans.

Employers with 50 or more full-time employees (usually meaning employees who work 40 hours a week) are required to provide health coverage to all full-time employees or else pay a tax penalty.

But this doesn’t mean that your employer will necessarily offer you a health insurance plan.

Some companies may find it more economical to pay the tax penalty and offer employees an alternative to health insurance, such as a health reimbursement arrangement.

For an employer with less than 50 full-time employees, the company won’t face a tax penalty for not offering health insurance coverage. 

However, if your employer does provide health insurance, they might be eligible for a tax credit. (Not to mention attracting and retaining top talent as many applicants look for health insurance as a primary benefit in a new position.)

Is my employer required to offer dental coverage?

Employers aren’t legally required to offer dental or vision benefits to either full- or part-time employees. But about 50% of companies still choose to offer their employees dental insurance.

Being eligible for employer-sponsored dental coverage could depend on your status as a full- or part-time employee. If you work part-time, you may be offered a reduced or fringe benefits package with limited dental coverage through your employer.

What if I only work part-time?

Each employer can offer different benefits to their part-time employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t legally define full- or part-time employment, but a minimum of 20 hours per week is a common definition.

Some employers may only offer part-time employees legally required benefits, such as workers’ compensation insurance, social security or short-term disability insurance (if it’s required in your state).

Other employers may offer a fringe or reduced benefits package, which can include health and dental insurance coverage, retirement plans, paid time off, childcare services and more.

How to get coverage if you’re not eligible through your employer

If your company either doesn’t offer health coverage or if you’re ineligible for health or dental coverage through your employer (because you’re a part-time employee, etc.), you can purchase your own private plan. 

Even if you’re eligible for employer-sponsored health and dental, a private plan could be more affordable for you and your dependents.

Employees are covering more of their employer-sponsored health insurance premiums than ever before. Workers contribute an average of 18% of the premium for single coverage, and 29% of the premium for family coverage.

Shopping for a private health and dental plan on a private exchange could be the ticket to finding a plan that suits you and your family’s needs. Or, you may consider a direct to consumer dental insurance plan.

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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.

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