There is no state law requiring employers to offer group healthcare insurance to their employees, but most employers do offer this benefit. However, if any healthcare insurance is offered, Virginia's insurance laws require that policies cover certain benefits (mandated benefits) and give employees the right to continue group coverage in certain circumstances if group coverage is lost. There is additional information about continuation requirements.
States are not permitted to regulate self-insured benefit plans. Virginia's mandated benefits, continuation, and conversion provisions do not apply to health plans in which the employer pays all benefits without the proceeds of any insurance policy. An employer's health plan is self-insured if the risk of paying claims is on the employer and not on an insurance company. Self-insured plans may contract with third-party administrators (TPAs), including insurance companies, to process benefit claims. The TPA pays the claims and then is reimbursed by the employer. Many self-insured plans also buy “stop-loss” insurance to cover very large claims. The purchase of stop-loss insurance does not result in the loss of self-insured status and the exemption from state regulation.