What to do if Your Employer Health Care Coverage is Ending

Posted on December 5, 2017

There's a lot of confusion about Health Insurance in Canada. Let's bust some common myths.

Are you part of the Canadian workforce, and a member of a health care program?

Whether it's a yearly bout of bronchitis or the one time in your entire life you've gotten pink eye, there's no telling when you'll need to use your medical program. But there's always a chance you will.

With that said, the prospect of losing your employer health coverage can be intimidating, to say the least. And in Canada, where health coverage aims to provide everyone with the care they need, this can be especially traumatic.

Today, we'll be looking at life after your job contract, and what to do when your health plan is suddenly in jeopardy.

Health Care In Canada: What You Need To Know

Canadian health care is known for being in favor of its employees.

The country's ten provinces and three territories each maintain their part in an overarching health program. It's with this in mind that they work to eliminate cost sharing. This is, as a standard, for basic hospital and physician services, with supplementary cover varying, depending on the state.

This supplementary cover, such as dental work or eye exams, is often covered by employer health programs. Employers are responsible for providing a healthy environment for their employees to work in. This means health plans, among other things.

Canadian citizens on provincial coverage depend on their employers for medical procedures including:

  • Eye exams, and prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses
  • Prescription drugs, outside of those stocked by a hospital
  • Acupuncture, physiotherapists, or nutritionist services
  • Standard dental services, orthodontia, and dentures
  • Ward rooms at a hospital that fall outside of the standard

While many assume the Canadian government sponsors most healthcare, as much as 30% of money spent on it is from private sources. Noncrucial healthcare is almost completely privately funded, whether via employers or individuals. Though there has been some push to expand the definition of "crucial" health coverage, this has been unsuccessful.

Still, all that aside, it's a health system that has supported many of Canada's citizens, over the years. And it continues to receive positive praise.

But what do you do when you discover your employer health care is ending?

Keeping Yourself Afloat When Your Coverage Dries Up

Most group plans in Canada work the same way. You're insured under your specific policy for as long as you remain part of the covered group. When you leave, your policy ends.

Which means that if your job ends, your coverage ends, as well.

There are any number of reasons your employer health policy may be coming to an end, though. Perhaps you've recently quit or been fired from your job, or maybe the company's fallen on hard times.

It could even be temporary.

Your employer might be changing policies to a different provider, or ratcheting down their services, based on budget cuts.

Whatever the reason, you need to know what your options are when you suddenly find yourself without a health care policy.

You'll want to call your provider and find out what your unique coverage entails. If you are leaving your policy because you've been laid off, you may find that your policy actually extends for a few weeks after your last day.

There are cases where individuals on group coverage who are leaving can apply for single-person plans to carry them through. This is assuming they apply within a certain period of time after leaving.

What's more, you may be able to include your spouse and dependent children in your new plan, as well. This is on the condition that they were previously covered under the company's group plan. They may not even have to meet any specific medical requirements, like questionnaires or exams.

Terms of service and what you're actually able to do vary from provider to provider. It all comes down to how soon after your coverage lapses you sign up for a new plan.

Know Your Rights

Of course, not every termination goes as smoothly as it should.

In cases where a company decides to fire an employee without cause, there are various employment acts in place to protect your rights. A big part of these is the setting out of requirements for termination notice - usually for a period of between one-and-eight weeks. This number varies, depending on the length of service of the employee.

Employers are obligated to provide health benefits to employees during a notice period. The insurer carries out their obligation to your employer.

This is regardless of if they've let you go without notice or not, which means that they should provide the coverage to carry you through. This won't typically cover claims for things like LTD or life insurance. Insurers are usually reluctant to cover employees who are no longer actively working at a company.

Whatever the case, your employer is obligated to provide benefits during a notice period. Depending on how long you've worked for them, you may be legally entitled to coverage that extends past your last day on the clock.

Put Your Health First, Even After Your Last Day

There's a reason Canadian health care is so well regarded. With state health plans providing a foundation, and private policies carrying the bigger ticket items, coverage is a fact, not a luxury.

It's become such a key factor in our daily living that many Canadians associate it strongly with their national identity.

Still, like anywhere else in the world, things don't always go according to plan. Jobs run out, businesses close, employer-employee relationships sour. Any number of things can come up, and, without planning for it, your contract can suddenly dry up.

Finding yourself suddenly without health cover because you've been let go can be a difficult and stressful time, for anyone. It's important to call your insurance provider. Try to get a better understanding of your rights as a member of their policy and an employee, protected by specific regulations.

And remember: being let go doesn't mean you immediately have no right to the coverage you had as an employee.

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