Responding to persistent personal informaion requests.
May 5, 2016 1:29 PM   Subscribe

To the law people out there: I work for a small company that recently signed up with a new health insurance company. For various reasons I declined the coverage, but I am getting bombarded by requests for personal information. Here's the actual latest message that I received after I informed them that I do not wish to participate: Hi C13, For any employees at Small Company to get health insurance, you need to complete your application. All employees must complete an application, regardless of whether accepting or waiving coverage.

For the lack of better words, WTF? Am I missing some new law or regulation that requires me to give out personal information? I mean, just on the first screen they ask for my address, phone number, SSN, marital status, etc. And there are several more screens which I cannot get to w/o filling all the blanks on the fist one. I've been out to the country for a while, so maybe I don't know something, but how is that possible? I would really appreciate it if someone pointed me in the right direction to research this.
posted by c13 to Law & Government (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm the Office Manger for our small company. You are required to officially decline/waive coverage, so that in the event that you/your heirs try to sue for lack of coverage, we have the document that shows you waived the coverage. I'm sorry that that doesn't help you to not provide all of your personal information, but some of it is the vagaries of web forms and I'm sure some needs to be provided, so you are searchable in the insurance company's database, so they can find your waiver, should it ever come to that.
posted by sarajane at 1:43 PM on May 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Can you clarify this a little bit, sarajane? The company that I work for knows that I declined the coverage, and has a record of it -- I filled out the forms at the time of hire. Are you saying that I have to provide the info to this new insurance company as well, even though I don't have any business with it?
posted by c13 at 1:54 PM on May 5, 2016

You declined coverage under the terms of the old insurance plan. They need record that you don't want coverage under the new terms of the new plan as well.
posted by Think_Long at 1:58 PM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Again, you are probably caught up in the vagaries of the web form. If you are really dead-set against providing this information, ask whomever in the company is the liaison to the insurance agent and have them ask if there is a workaround.
posted by sarajane at 2:02 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, the new insurance company wants/probably has a record of ALL employees to be sure that your employer is not discriminating by not offering insurance to any eligible employees, so they will want a record of your waiver of coverage, as well.
posted by sarajane at 2:04 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

HR/benefits guy here. Ask for a paper form. They may hate giving it to you, but they should have one. Give your name, address (or enough info to be identified as "that employee," and that should be enough for them. Yes, the company is having to cover themselves.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:07 PM on May 5, 2016 [12 favorites]

I agree that they both will want a record of the decline, but (working in insurance and privacy) there are a lot of rules around the egregious collection of information- at least for the public sector in Australia. Might be worth looking into.
posted by jrobin276 at 2:49 PM on May 5, 2016

Benefits Admin here:
There is no law / legal reason that you must actively decline. At most companies no information = decline. But there are some companies that will sign you up for the plan if you don't actively waive coverage (mine does it, we also pay 100% of employee only premiums so there is no paycheck hit for EEs). Additionally, yes, usually changing health insurance providers means everyone has to go through the enroll/waive process again so any election you had before would not automatically carryover, this would be especially true for a small company vs a very large one.

There are reasons that both your company and the insurance company want you to actively decline.
1. The smaller a company the more one person can affect the rates of coverage.
2. There may be a minimum number of enrollees required to make the contract so they want to be very sure every possible person has enrolled.
3. You could claim later that you didn't know about it and that you did want coverage. It is a CYA for them.
4. You could just be ignoring and not reading any of this and ACTUALLY not know this is going on. (I hear from a lot of people in January who complain that they had no idea Open Enrollment was going on in November because they somehow missed the weekly emails, the postcard and the letter mailed home, the calendar invite, the in person meetings, and the almost daily internal e-group posts), again it is a CYA for them.

You can continue to ignore, you can ask for a paper form (it probably does exist somewhere), really up to you.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:12 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is a new law requiring additional reporting due to the Affordable Care Act. Read more here.
posted by valeries at 5:02 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you, guys. I did what you suggested, called the insurance company and asked for the paper version of the application. After while, (a LONG while), they finally routed me to someone who could make a decision. But she just took me off the mailing list. So hopefully I will not hear from them again.
I get that they may want to have the refusal in writing, but I'm just refusing a service, not applying for a top secret clearance. Besides, the way I read that last email was that they were going to refuse coverage to everybody else in the company if I didn't fill in the application. I value privacy, but I don't want to be THAT guy....
posted by c13 at 6:28 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Benefits-for-small-businesses lady here. Since your company is small and signing up for a new health insurance plan, and given the text you copied from their message, the 2nd reason magnetsphere mentions above is definitely what's going on. To break it down:

-Insurance carriers require a certain percentage of employees to participate (enroll in health insurance) to approve a company's coverage
-The smaller the company, the more challenging it can be to meet participation requirements
-Carriers calculate the percentage based on the number of eligible-for-insurance employees left AFTER everyone with a valid waiver is subtracted
-So if your company has 10 employees eligible for insurance, and none of them officially waive coverage for a reason considered valid by the ACA and the carrier, the carrier says that, say, 70% of 10 MUST participate. If 2 people officially waive coverage for a valid reason, that's 70% of 8.
-If you don't waive, the carrier doesn't know how to calculate the participation, and so will often refuse to process the company's insurance application until everyone has either enrolled or waived
-Which means refusing to waive holds up coverage for your colleagues

It's kinda dumb, but that's exactly what's going on. If the company already had insurance and you joined as a new hire, it would be a lot less of an issue--although the company would likely still prefer you officially waive to cover their butts and prove they offered you coverage as they're required to.

If you happen to work for a CA-based company and this new insurance company is also your modern, delightful payroll provider, you might be my customer. In which case, memail me and I will make this supes easy for you with a minimum of personal information exchange. :)
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:37 PM on May 6, 2016

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