Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

Advice Available For Those Facing Loss of Health Benefits - U.S. Labor Department Answers Questions, Provides Options for Continuing Coverage

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Labor’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration today issued important information to New York area residents who may be facing the loss of their health benefits as a result of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Losing a family member or one’s job can also threaten a family’s health benefits,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “We want people to have all the information they need to make timely decisions about their health benefits.”

The Labor Department is providing answers, through a toll-free number and its Web site, to the most frequently asked questions from individuals who want to preserve their benefits, including a description of the various options individuals have to continue health coverage.

One option that may be available to individuals losing their health coverage is through special enrollment in another employment-based group plan. For example, an individual who lost coverage as a result of a spouse’s death or job loss may be able to enroll in a plan offered through his/her own employer. This type of coverage is generally less expensive than other options available because the employer often pays a portion of the premium.

To qualify, an individual must request the special enrollment within 30 days of losing coverage. For some individuals, the 30-day clock may be running out soon. While employers and plan sponsors have the flexibility to extend the option for more than 30 days, they are not required to do so. The plan administrator should be able to clarify the plan’s requirements.

In addition, President George W. Bush’s Back to Work proposal contains $3 billion in National Emergency Grants allowing governors to assist dislocated workers, including paying up to 75% of a laid-off worker’s COBRA health premium while that worker obtains training and searches for a new job. The President’s proposal is being considered by Congress.

“While this Administration is working hard to ensure that individuals affected by these tragic events do not lose their health coverage, individuals may need to act right away to protect themselves,” said Chao.

To better understand the options for maintaining health coverage in these circumstances, see PWBAs Frequently Asked Questions, and the publication entitled, Pension and Health Coverage - Questions and Answers for Dislocated Workers (available in both English and Spanish) on the department’s Web site or call 1.800.998.7542 and request copies.

Individuals who would like to talk with a benefits advisor about their specific situation may submit their question electronically or call the department’s temporary office in New York at 212.337.2228.

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7775.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
October 12, 2001
Release Number