Can my health insurance be canceled while I’m on aleave of absence in a treatment center?

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2011

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Can my health insurance be canceled while I’m on aleave of absence in a treatment center?

I talked with my supervisor and explained I was going to check into a alcohol treatment center. He was very supportive and thought it a great idea. I had been employed for just over 6 months and had health insurance. I checked in 4 1/2  months ago and was discharged about 3 weeks later. I went to the pharmacy and was told my insurance coverage was canceled by my employer several days before. I am strictly commission sales and had always paid my insurance out of my check. Due to the fact I was in a treatment center I had no commission made for that 2 week period. I now have unpaid health bills, is this legal?

Asked on June 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an employment law attorney--you may have a cause of action to force the employer to pick up the medical costs.

First, as a general matter: an employer is NOT obligated to maintain insurace for someone who leaves work for any reason; indeed, an employer is not obligated to even maintain employment as a general matter for someone who can't work. So as a general proposition, the employer did not have to preserve your job or your insurance.

However, that said, an agreement to hold your job or to maintain your coverage must be honored. If you spoke with a supervisor and he encouraged you to take the leave, it may be that you can show that there was effectively an agreement to maintain your coverage.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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