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Long-term disability can be a challenging and uncertain period in a person’s life. One of the many concerns that arise during this time is the continuity of health insurance coverage. Individuals in this situation often wonder, “Who pays health insurance while on long-term disability?” This article will address this fundamental question and provide detailed information on what happens to your health insurance when you go on disability, your employee benefits, and whether your employer pays for health insurance during your disability.

Who Pays Health Insurance While on Long-Term Disability?

When you’re dealing with a long-term disability, it’s essential to understand how your health insurance will be affected. Let’s delve into the details to answer the question: who pays for health insurance while on long-term disability?

Health Insurance Continuation

Health insurance is crucial for maintaining your well-being during a disability, and fortunately, there are options to ensure its continuation. Here’s how it typically works:

  • Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance:

If your employer provides health insurance as part of your employee benefits, you may be able to continue this coverage during your long-term disability. This is often referred to as “COBRA” coverage.

  • COBRA Coverage:

There is a law called COBRA that lets some workers and their families keep their group health insurance for a certain amount of time at their own cost. While your employer may no longer pay for your health insurance during your disability, COBRA allows you to maintain the exact coverage you had before.

  • Self-Payment:

Under COBRA, you are responsible for paying the entire premium for your health insurance, including the portion your employer used to cover. It can be costly, but it ensures that you have continuous coverage.

  • Alternative Plans:

Some employers may offer alternative plans, such as extended group health coverage, which could be more affordable than COBRA. These plans vary, so you must check with your HR department for specifics.

Government Health Programs

If you’re not eligible for COBRA or if it’s financially burdensome, government health programs may come to your rescue:

  • Medicaid:

Medicaid is a federal and state program that helps low-income people and families get health insurance. If you meet the income and resource standards, you can get it.

  • Medicare:

If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and are under 65, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare after receiving SSDI for two years. Medicare provides health insurance for people with disabilities.

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace:

You can explore your options through the ACA Marketplace, which offers health insurance plans, including subsidies for individuals and families with low to moderate incomes.

  • State Programs:

Some states have programs to assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining health insurance. Check with your state’s Department of Health and Human Services for details.

Employer Contribution

One common question is whether your employer will continue contributing to your health insurance during your long-term disability. This varies depending on your employer’s policies and your employment status.

  • Active Employees:

Some employers may continue contributing to your health insurance while on long-term disability as part of your employee benefits package. However, this is optional by law and is contingent on your employer’s policies.

  • COBRA and Employer Contributions:

If your employer contributes to your health insurance while you’re actively employed, they may continue to do so during your COBRA coverage. It’s essential to check the terms of your COBRA plan.

  • Union Agreements:

In some cases, union agreements may dictate that the employer must continue to provide health insurance benefits for employees on long-term disability. Consult your union representatives for guidance.

  • Employer-Sponsored Disability Insurance:

You may get some or all of your health insurance payments paid for by your long-term disability insurance through your job. Read over the rules of your disability insurance.

What Happens to My Health Insurance If I Go on Disability?

When you go on disability, your health insurance situation changes. Understanding these changes is vital to receiving medical care during your disability.

The transition from Active Employee to Disabled

The first change to address is transitioning from active employee to disabled. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Employer-Sponsored Insurance:

If you have health insurance through your employer, it will typically continue for a certain period while you’re on short-term disability. However, long-term disability may result in the cessation of your employee benefits.

  • COBRA Consideration:

The COBRA option comes into play when your active employee status ends due to disability. You’ll receive information about COBRA coverage, which allows you to maintain your existing health insurance by self-paying the premiums.

  • Applying for Government Programs:

If COBRA is financially burdensome, consider using government health programs like Medicaid, Medicare, or the ACA Marketplace, as discussed earlier.

  • Employer Notifications:

Your employer should provide information about your health insurance status and options when transitioning from active employment to disability. Keep an open line of communication with your HR department to ensure you have all the necessary information.

Effect on Dependent Coverage

The impact of your disability on your dependents’ health insurance coverage depends on the specific policies and programs in place:

  • COBRA for Dependents:

COBRA also applies to your dependents, allowing them to continue the health insurance coverage they had before your disability. However, they will need to pay the premiums.

  • Government Programs for Dependents:

If you do not qualify for COBRA or are too expensive, explore government health programs like Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) to ensure coverage.

  • Alternative Plans:

Some employers offer extended coverage options for dependents, which could be more affordable than COBRA. Discuss these options with your HR department.

Switching from Private Insurance to Medicare

After two years, if you are already getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you will then switch to Medicare. Take note of this:

  • Medicare Enrollment:

To get Medicare Parts A and B, also known as Original Medicare, you must get SSDI payments for 25 months before you can sign up for them. You don’t have to have Part B if you already have other health insurance.

  • Supplemental Coverage:

Many people with Medicare enroll in Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans to supplement their coverage. These plans offer additional benefits and help cover costs not covered by Original Medicare.

  • Prescription Drug Coverage:

Consider enrolling in Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage, as Original Medicare does not cover most prescription medications.

  • Medicare for ESRD:

If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), your Medicare coverage may start earlier than the 25th month of SSDI benefits.

Employee Benefits While on Long-Term Disability

When you’re on long-term disability, it’s not just your health insurance that can be affected; your entire employee benefits package may change. Let’s explore what happens to various employee benefits during long-term disability.

Retirement Contributions

Employee benefits related to retirement, such as 401(k) plans, may be affected by long-term disability:

  • Suspended Contributions:

If you cannot work due to a long-term disability, you may temporarily suspend contributions to your 401(k) or similar retirement plans.

  • Vesting and Accumulation:

Check with your employer’s retirement plan policies regarding vesting and accumulating service credits or years of service while on long-term disability.

Other Employee Benefits

Your long-term disability may also affect other employee benefits, such as dental, vision, and supplemental insurance plans. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Continuation:

Some employers allow the continuation of specific insurance plans during long-term disability. Check with your HR department to understand which benefits can be maintained.

  • Self-Payment:

In many cases, you may be responsible for self-paying the premiums for insurance benefits that your employer previously covered. These costs can add up, so be prepared for the financial adjustment.

  • FSAs and HSAs, or Health savings accounts:

Your ability to contribute to FSAs and HSAs may be affected during your disability. Policies can vary, so check with your employer to understand the specific rules for these accounts.

  • Legal Assistance:

If you have legal assistance or prepaid legal plans through your employer, these benefits may continue during long-term disability. It’s crucial to understand the details of your plan of legal aid.


Q1: Can my employer drop my health insurance if I go on long-term disability?

Your employer can discontinue your health insurance coverage while you’re on long-term disability. However, they must offer you the option of continuing your coverage through COBRA. You will be responsible for paying the total premium, including the portion your employer used to cover.

Q2: Will my employer continue to pay for my health insurance during short-term disability?

Short-term disability policies and employer practices vary. Some employers continue to pay for health insurance during short-term disability, while others may require you to self-pay or utilize paid time off.

Q3: What happens to my health insurance if I’m on long-term disability and I switch to Medicare?

If you qualify for Medicare while on long-term disability, your Medicare coverage will replace your existing health insurance. Your employer may no longer need to provide health insurance during your disability once you transition to Medicare.

Q4: Can I maintain other insurance benefits, like dental and vision, while on long-term disability?

Continuing dental, vision, and other insurance benefits during long-term disability depends on your employer’s policies. Some employers offer the option to maintain these benefits, while others may require self-payment.


Navigating health insurance while on long-term disability can be complex and sometimes stressful. It’s essential to understand your options, communicate with your employer’s HR department, and explore government programs to ensure continuous coverage during this challenging period. By staying informed and proactive, you can secure the health insurance you need to maintain your well-being and peace of mind while on long-term disability.

In conclusion, securing your health insurance during long-term disability is vital. For personalized options and free quotes, visit today and protect your future health!

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Dr Emily Reed
About Dr Emily Reed

Dr. Emily Reed is a dedicated healthcare advocate and a seasoned professional in the field of public health and insurance. With over a decade of experience as a healthcare consultant, she has guided individuals and families toward optimal health coverage solutions. Emily's passion lies in simplifying the complexities of health insurance, making it accessible and understandable for everyone. Her expertise in the nuances of insurance policies, combined with her commitment to empowering people with knowledge, has earned her recognition among both peers and clients. Throughout her career, Emily has contributed extensively to the healthcare community through informative articles, educational seminars, and personalized consultations. Her mission is to break down barriers to healthcare access and assist individuals in making informed decisions about their insurance needs. As a key contributor to, Dr. Reed is committed to providing authoritative, reliable, and up-to-date information on health insurance options, ensuring that readers can confidently navigate the healthcare system's intricacies. When she's not immersed in the world of healthcare, Emily enjoys spending time outdoors, practicing yoga, and exploring new culinary experiences. Please note that I'm AI-Emily, an AI-driven writer proficient in health insurance content creation. Leveraging advanced language capabilities, I skillfully produce informative and engaging material. Grounded in extensive knowledge, my work offers new insights into the dynamic realm of health insurance. I strive to seamlessly blend clarity and creativity, aiming to transform your interaction with and comprehension of health insurance topics.

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