Can Health Insurance Be Cancelled By Boss?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about health insurance:

My boss decided to stop paying the premium on my health insurance and did not tell me. I used my insurance and am now being billed by the hospital, lab and doctors office.Is this legal?

Signed, Angry

Dear Angry:

There are no laws requiring an employer to provide health insurance benefits. Once the insurance is provided there certainly is an expectation that it will continue–but the employer is not required to do so. Contact the Department of Labor for your state, or go to their website, to see if there are state requirements that might affect this. The size of your business is a key issue as well. If there are only one or two employees, regulations may not apply. You might also want to contact an attorney who specializes in employment law and ask for a free consultation to see if it seems likely you could sue your employer to recover the costs. It might be worth it to you to pay for an attorney to save the money of the medical bills. Or, they might take the case on a contingency basis where your employer would have to pay for court costs.Of course, you will likely not be working for that employer, if you do that.First, talk to your boss civilly and ask why you were not notified. Or, if you were notified, ask to see a copy of the notification letter. Ask what options the employer had in mind for replacing this benefit.

Let other employees know what has happened, so they don’t get into the same situation.Then, contact the insurance company you formerly had, and ask them why they did not notify you that your coverage had lapsed. If you went into the hospital it seems unlikely they would accept just an insurance card as proof of insurance–they check their own resources as well. So, perhaps you should ask them why they did not find that you had no insurance.You will probably have to go a bit on the offensive with this and push the point that you had no way of knowing you didn’t have insurance, but everyone involved had ways of checking with the insurance company. Thus, you are not liable for the bills.I think the argument will be that you are. But, you may be able to have them reduced or billed differently.

You might need to consider a small claims court case, if you want your employer to pay for what you are wrongfully being charged for. That would be free for you to do, but you would be doing it on your own, without legal assistance. And, when this is over, if you can find any other job WITH benefits, I would certainly leave your current employment and go elsewhere. That’s what Dr. Gorden refers to as “voting with your feet.”Best wishes with this situation!

Tina Lewis Rowe