I’m sick – will my health insurance end?

I was just diagnosed with cancer.  I have a good chance of beating it, but will my health insurance get cancelled because of this?  I’m more worried about losing my health insurance at work, than I am about my surgery!  I’m in my thirties and live in New York, but am considering moving to Ohio to be closer to my family.

Survivor To Be

Dear Survivor To Be,

In New York and in any state of the United States, a group health insurance plan cannot exclude an employee for any reason.  Your employer’s plan cannot single you out because of your cancer and leave you uninsured.  As long as you are able to keep working, you will stay on the group plan like any other employee.

Now, moving to Ohio may be another matter.  You could keep your employer’s health insurance for 18 months on COBRA.  After the 18 months has passed, you would want to get another plan.  In the individual plan market (that is, health insurance that you buy on your own and not through an employer), Ohio’s insurers are required to offer a standardized plan periodically and to accept all comers.  You will need to time the end of COBRA with the one of these “open enrollment” seasons.

If you found a job in Ohio and you didn’t have a 63-day gap in your health insurance, then your new employer’s plan would pay for your care, including your cancer.

Do whatever you need to do to avoid having a gap in your health insurance – a period of time that you have no insurance.  Or at least, make sure your gap is less than 63 days.  Now that you have a cancer diagnosis, you need to stay insured.  By staying insured, you will always be covered for your cancer care.

Good luck!

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.