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Zachary
Zachary, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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I have worked at my company for 7 years, and I was always eligible

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I have worked at my company for 7 years, and I was always eligible for Health Insurance as long as I worked an average of 20+ hours per week over the previous 12-month period when annual enrollment came up...for several years, I worked 30+ hours, and just last year I went down to 24+ hours per week...while I did lose vacation and personal hours as an employee benefit, I kept my health insurance coverage witht the company...now my company sent out a letter stating that they are changing their health insurance eligibility requirements...you now must work 30+ hours per week, and all affected employees must go on COBRA coverage/rates starting in 3 months. When I first heard of the 30+ hours requirement, I immediately asked (and was approved) to work 30+ hours per week, but they are saying I am NOT eligible to avoid COBRA until I work 30+ hours per week for the next year...my question...how can they force me to pay COBRA when they gave NO advance notice about this hours requirement to any of us? I can understand if they had warned us a year ago that they would be changing the insurance eligibility requirements in the future, and gave us the opportunity to work enough hours to satisfy their upcoming changes...or if I refused to accept more hours right now to meet the 30+ hours (new) requirement for health insurance coverage, but I immediately took on (went back to) working 30+ hours per week, so how can they enforce a benefit requirement when it was unknown to us this past year? Is this some new wrinkle/loophole of COBRA and OBAMACARE?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question. It really sounds like you are in a tough situation.

Unfortunately, your employer does have the right to eliminate your insurance at this point and put you on COBRA for a year. Under current law employers are free to set their enrollment period for new health insurance plans. Obamacare rules which require your employer to provide health insurance or pay a penalty and also to allow you to enroll within 90 days does not come into effect until 2014.

This certainly is unfair of your employer, but it is unfortunately legal.

-ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


but how can they still enforce this if I am now working the 30+ hours per week?..i.e...meeting the new requirement?...I could understand if I refused to work the extra hours now, but I have NO WAY to avoid this?

Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
Are you saying that if the company hired someone tomorrow that was new and they were working at 30 hours that the new employee would automatically get insurance?

If so, and this is the written policy, then perhaps you have a legal claim for breach of contract. A company must honor its employee policies. If they promise that all new employees working over 30 hours qualify for insurance, then you have a claim.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I'm not sure on the answer to your question, but I will find out...I work for a large/nationwide company, so I didn't think they would try to do something illegal, but I just felt this was unfair...could they have done this at ANY time, or is this some sort of new rule and dealing with the OBAMACARE changes?

Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
Employers can generally terminate insurance at anytime as long as COBRA is offered. However, they have to be fair in their employment benefits and do have to honor their policies or face legal liability.

Obamacare is actually causing an increase in insurance costs, and many employers are dropping coverage for their employees. Once Obamacare goes into effect in 2014, all large employers will have to offer all of their full time employees health insurance.


Please let me know if there is any other information that I can provide for you. Please also consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensate for my work by the website.

Thanks,
ZDN
Zachary, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 3827
Experience: Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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