Losing your employee health insurance, along with your job, could be devastating.

According to law, your employer must provide notice of your opportunity to continue your employee health insurance if your employment ends for any reason, except for gross misconduct. There are substantial penalties for failure to notify employees of this provision.

You may continue employee health insurance for 18 months or more after being fired, quitting, having your hours reduced so you no longer qualify for coverage, and being laid off.

However, employee health insurance coverage can end if you don’t pay the premiums, your employer terminates the group health plan for all its employees, you become eligible for Medicare, or you become eligible for another group health plan.

Your medical insurance and other unemployment benefits rights are especially important if you, or someone in your family, is uninsurable at the time you lose your job. At least continued health insurance coverage gives you time to look for other options.

Don D. Sessions, Orange County Lawyer and author

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