You might wonder what will happen to your health insurance coverage while you’re on a medical leave of absence. Well, it depends. This article explains what you must know about health insurance while on medical leave.
Your Health Insurance Should Continue While on FMLA Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lets workers receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave within a year for a severe health condition without losing their job. Whether you qualify for FMLA depends on several factors:
- including how long you have worked for the company
- the number of employees at your company
- whether you have had previous medical leaves within the year.
If you have health insurance coverage with your employer and use your FMLA leave, your company must continue your health insurance coverage like if you were currently working. That means you will continue contributing to the health insurance premiums as you previously did. Also, you will have to pay the employee portion of the premiums to maintain coverage if premiums usually were deducted from your paycheck, but your medical leave is unpaid.
Some Companies Provide Continued Health Insurance While Employees Are on Short- or Long-Term Disability Leave
While it’s not mandatory, some employers provide health insurance coverage while an employee is on short- or long-term disability leave. But short- and long-term disability benefits do not cover the cost of their health insurance premiums. Instead, STD and LTD policies pay a portion of your income while you are unable to work.
In addition, you will need to review the employer’s policies or benefits handbook to verify whether you will have health insurance while on STD or LTD leave. Keep in mind that an employer doesn’t have to maintain a worker’s health insurance coverage for an extended time, but they must follow and apply its written policies consistently.
Employers Must Allow You to Apply for COBRA If You Lose Your Health Insurance Coverage
Aside from certain small businesses, the federal government, and church organizations, employers must permit you to apply for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). This is only if you lose your health insurance coverage due to your medical leave. Generally, you have 18 months of continued COBRA coverage if you lose your health insurance due to medical leave.
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