EEOC, SSI, HIPP, oh my!Save as Favorite
On last week's Ask The Experts teleconference a number of questions came up regarding the different government programs employees with cancer often take advantage of. From SSI, to COBRA, to HIPP, below are some of these questions and what our legal and insurance expert Joanna Morales, Esq. had to say in response. Of course, government programs have many facets to them and these are only some of the issues that can came up. Be sure to share in the comments any of your experience dealing with these programs and remember to seek professional help for any problems you may be having. (Lastly, don't forget, we have one more Ask The Experts teleconference this year - register now!).
Caller: I've been out looking for work, and the main problem is medical insurance. The moment I start to work the Medicaid will be dropped and the insurance premiums for the high risk will not even cover what somebody would pay me. How can I keep insurance, because I don't have $325 to say hello to the oncologist, never mind $445 for the breast cancer medicine. (I am on SSI [supplemental security income]).
Joanna Morales, Esq.: So the SSI and SSDI programs have what are called return-to-work programs. They allow you to return to work for a certain period of time to make sure that you are truly able to return to work permanently. So it's to encourage people to try to go back to work but not immediately lose access to your benefits or your health insurance that's tied to your disability benefits... The second thing is that looking for employment that provides health insurance is obviously a great way to be able to continue to get access to health insurance
Caller: As soon as I went to HR and told them about [my cancer], my boss said to me immediately, we can't make you any guarantees we’re going to keep you.
Joanna Morales, Esq.: So if you [want to pursue this there are] two avenues. The first is you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency that enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, or your state fair employment agency. And say this is what happened, and I think that there were was something that wasn't legal here, and can you investigate. But what that means is that they will in fact investigate. So they send a notice to that employer and say that you filed a complaint, and they will ask questions about it and investigate it. The second option is you can talk with an employment attorney to really understand what it is to pursue a claim against an employer. So what it takes, what it costs, there are employment attorneys out there who will work on contingencies.
Caller: Does the HIPPP (health insurance premium payment program) help you pay COBRA premiums?
Joanna Morales, Esq.: Yes it does. So if you have an income level and meet the other requirements of getting Medicaid in your state then you may qualify to have your private insurance premiums including COBRA paid for you.
And don't forget! We've got all of the basic information about all of these laws and government programs available on our site in the Legal & Financial section.
Please note that the above information is designed to provide general information on the topics presented. It is provided with the understanding that the experts are not engaged in rendering any legal or professional services either during the teleconference or in any transcript reprinting. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for professional services.