Protecting Pension and Health Care Benefits after Job Loss

Authored By: U.S. Department of Labor
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Protecting Retirement and Health Benefits after Job Loss

Job termination or a reduction in hours can result in a loss of retirement and health benefits. However, employees and their families may have rights under federal law that can help protect benefits when employment changes.

HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act – Enrolling In Another Health Plan

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) helps when you are switching from one job to another. If other group health coverage is available (for example, through a spouse's employment-based plan), special enrollment in that plan should be considered. It allows the individual and his/her family an opportunity to enroll in a plan for which they are otherwise eligible, regardless of open enrollment periods. However, to qualify, enrollment must be requested within 30 days of losing eligibility for other coverage. After special enrollment is requested, coverage must be effective no later than the first day of the first month following your request for enrollment.

In addition, if you enroll in employment-based group health plan coverage (such as special enrollment into a spouse's plan), under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Affordable Care Act), for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, group health plans and insurers can't refuse to cover treatment for preexisting conditions for any individuals. This protection is already in effect for individuals under age 19.


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Last Review and Update: Oct 20, 2015