Ask the Experts: FMLA For Employees Called to Active Military Duty

Question:  Can an employee being called to active military duty until March 2014 cancel his insurance while on leave?  Is this a qualifying event that would allow the group to cancel coverage right now at the member’s request?  How does this affect his USERRA benefit?  When he comes back to work, can the group just re-enroll him on the plans?

Our View: If an employee leaves the workforce to perform military service, USERRA requires that the employee be able to continue his/her existing employer-based health plan coverage for the employee and dependents for up to 24 months while in the military.

Is this a qualifying event that would allow the group to cancel coverage right now at the member’s request?  It isn’t a qualifying event until the employee starts his military leave.

How does this affect his USERRA benefit?

  • Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer sponsored health care for themselves and their dependents for up to 24 months. They may be required to pay up to 102% of the full premium.
  • For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage must be provided as if the service member had remained employed.
  • Even if covered service members do not elect to continue coverage during their military service, they have the right to be reinstated in your group health plan when they are reemployed, generally without any waiting periods or exclusions (e.g., pre-existing condition exclusions) except for service-connected illnesses or injuries.

When he comes back to work, can the group just re-enroll him on the plans?  Yes – in fact, that is what the law allows, as long as he comes back to work on time.

You may wish to give the service member this chart that outlines rights and responsibilities during USERRA leave:  http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/USERRA_Federal.pdf.