Automatic enrollment proves controversial

The new healthcare reform law provision that will automatically enroll individuals in a plan unless they opt out is proving to be controversial. Many businesses, including 7-Eleven, CarMax and Lowe's say the "default option" could cause confusion among employees who suddenly find themselves in a plan they didn't sign up for and might not want, reports Kaiser Health News.

Proponents say the provision meets the goals of the Affordable Care Act.

"You're not eliminating people's choice or forcing people into things they don't want," Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, told KHN.

The ACA requires that companies with more than 200 full-time workers enroll employees in one of the company's health plans. But last year, the White House decided to delay the so-called employer mandate to 2015. In the meantime, employers aren't required to comply until the Department of Labor issues the appropriate guidelines, notes KHN.

While certain automatic enrollment processes are a success--such as when companies automatically enroll their employees in a 401(k) plan--health insurance is more intricate. If an employee doesn't like their 401(k) options, they can usually change them.

But with health insurance, if an employer deducts a premium from employees' paychecks, they can't change their coverage unless they have a "qualifying event," according to the article.

The provision has added some people who may not have otherwise signed up for insurance, maybe because of cost concerns, Andrew Gold, vice president of total rewards at software manufacturer Pitney Bowes told KHN. But when they see the cost, they realize they can live with it, he said. 

For more:
- here's the KHN piece