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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37855
Experience:  30+ years legal experience and I keep current in Employment Law through regular continuing education.
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My husband works hourly and is insured by a small newspaper.

Customer Question

My husband works hourly and is insured by a small newspaper. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in Dec of last year and isn't able to work 40 hours a week as he did previously. Since the workload is sporadic, it hasn't been a big problem for his employer because they are happy to not pay him if he's not at work. But today, they told him they want to drop him from the insurance plan because he isn't getting 30 hours every week. They said if they were audited, they could be in trouble with the government for letting him stay on it. It seems to me that a company can cover whomever they want. I am thinking that the 30 hour rule is their own rule, not a government mandate? Am I wrong? We saw this coming and were surprised they would keep him on the plan as long as they did. But lately, they have been hiring folks that do what he does, so they probably want to offer those people (significantly younger--10 years?) the benefits, as they can't afford it for everybody.
Also, because he is Stage 4, he thought about trying to file for disability insurance, but his is a desk job and he can sit for hours--albeit with a lot of discomfort and with constant bathroom visits and related pain and medicine side effects. Do you think he would be a candidate? We were thinking that since he isn't in a highly physical line of work, it might be harder to draw it. Does that sound right? Also, if we were to start the process of applying for disability, would they base the figures on the paycheck he has been earning since being sick? or will they consider his salary before he had to reduce his hours? We have been getting by with his reduced paycheck, but just barely. Also, how easy is it to re-enter the workforce if you have been granted disability insurance? We are hoping that a cure will happen. I think they are willing to keep him on part-time because he is a strong asset.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon Pamela,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

You are correct, that there is no federal law stating that employers may not provide health insurance for people working less than 30 hours a week.

However, many employer contract with health insurance companies mandate that the employee must be working at least 30 hours to be eligible for health coverage under the policy---and I suspect that is what they are referring to, and not any particular law. Most health policies offered employers have this requirement (30 hours is standard as well) so I am not surprised at the situation that you face---though I certainly empathize with your concerns.

So yes, the company could continue his coverage so long as it does not violate the contract they have with the health care insurance company.

The worst case scenario is that if he loses his coverage through the employer he will be eligible for COBRA so he won't lose benefits. And yes, with COBRA the cost will be higher. But the alternative is that he will have to tough out working 30 hours a week---which may be contrary to his health.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I hope that I have been able to fully answer your question. As I am not an employee of JustAnswer, please be so kind as to rate my service to you. That is the only way I am compensated for assisting you. Thank you in advance.

I wish you and yours the best in 2016,