Health coverage during disability leave

I’ll be going out on maternity leave soon.  I plan to stay out for the 12 weeks.  I’m covered by my employer’s health plan.  Is the company obligated to pay for my health insurance while I’m out on short-term disability leave?  I’m thinking about joining my husband’s plan so that I don’t lose my health insurance while I’m home with the baby.  There’s no way we could afford to have me not work for 12 weeks and pay for health insurance.

Maybe Uninsured Mom

Dear Maybe Uninsured Mom,

The employer is obligated to follow its own written policy about employees out on short-term disability leave. The employer cannot, for example, pay for the president’s health insurance when she is out on STD leave and then not pay for the entry-level clerk’s health insurance when he is out on STD leave. Even if the employer does not have a written policy, all employees who take a disability leave should be treated the same.

The birth of the baby is a “qualifying event” so you should be able to join your husband’s plan.  Make sure that his plan does not have any rules about spouses whose employers also offer a health plan.  Some employers do not allow spouses to join the plan, if the spouse has another employer plan available.

Get these details out of the way so you can focus on your new baby!

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.