Can an Employer Cancel Your Health Insurance while You Are Out on a Disability?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

The provision of health insurance is governed by a dizzying array of factors. If you have health insurance through your employer, there are pages upon pages of documents with which you must familiarize yourself in order to deal with unexpected situations. Health insurance is ruinously expensive to procure on the open market and counts as a significant operating expense for most American businesses. As such, you must recognize that your personal need for coverage is circumscribed by the simple fact that your employer is locked in a constant struggle to reduce the financial burden of providing insurance for its employees.

If a sudden or chronic injury renders you temporarily unable to perform your job duties, you may qualify for temporary disability protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law permits you to remain home from work or significantly reduce your job duties for a fixed period of time without jeopardizing your employment status.

Under the terms of the FMLA, you won't be terminated for sustaining an injury on or off the job. Further, you'll be permitted to return to work in your former position once you're healthy enough to work. Your leave will be controlled and supervised by a medical professional. In other words, you'll qualify for FMLA leave only if your doctor judges that your injury renders you unable to perform your job duties. You'll be able to return only if your doctor clears you to resume your former duties.

While you're on medical leave, you're protected by several important federal regulations. Under most circumstances, the Family and Medical Leave Act will protect your health insurance benefits until you're ready to return to work. Under the terms of your leave, your employer may not terminate your health insurance benefits simply because you're unable to perform your job duties. Likewise, your employer can't terminate your benefits simply because they've become a financial burden. Events that qualify for continuing benefits under the FMLA include doctor-cleared disabilities or injuries, childbirth, a family member's sudden injury or illness, and certain other serious situations.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act prohibits your employer's insurance provider from dropping you from its plan simply because you've developed a disability. Under the terms of the law, insurance companies can no longer drop their policyholders from coverage due to "pre-existing" conditions. However, you must return to work once you've been cleared to do so in order to continue receiving health insurance benefits. Otherwise, you'll need to enroll in the federal COBRA program.

More On This Topic



Comments are closed.