Alternatives To Consider If There Are Health Questions On The Enrollment Form For Group Health Insurance
You cannot be discriminated against because of your health condition if your employer offers group health insurance to people in your position. That does not mean there may not be health questions on the enrollment form for health insurance.
Health questions may not matter to you if you already have the job and you have disclosed your health history to your employer. However, if you don't want to disclose your health history, check to see if the following apply. If not, we present alternatives to consider. When deciding what to do, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong here. The question is what works for you.
PERHAPS THERE IS NO QUESTION
Are the health questions really on the health insurance enrollment form?
Sometimes people will mistake a pre-employment health questionnaire for the health insurance enrollment form since they often come in one big packet. If the questions about health are in a pre-employment health questionnaire, see The Physical Exam And Drug Screening.
Is the form multi-purpose?
Sometimes forms relate to more than one benefit at once. To find out if the form in question is such a multi-purpose form, read the instructions carefully. The questions may not be directed at you. For instance, the health questions may be only for people who are applying for higher amounts of life insurance.
Do all employees have to answer the health questions?
Perhaps the questions are only for a class of employees -- such as employees who will drive heavy equipment because health condition may be a relevant part of the job.
ALTERNATIVES TO CONSIDER WHEN YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS
You have several choices:
- Answer the questions.
- If you choose to answer the questions, do not lie on the form. There can be repercussions later that may cost you your coverage and your job.
- The drawback to answering the questions is not that you will be refused coverage. It is that someone at the employer's will know about your health history. If you consider this option, review below about California's Small Group Law.
- Leave the answers blank.
- Some people leave the answers blank to see if the employer really wants them. The form may be processed without answers to the questions. If the answers are important to the employer, the form will be returned to you for completion.
- Ask about it. Go to Human Resources and ask why there are health questions on the enrollment form. When you ask, think about assuming an attitude of a curious informed person rather than a person prepared to fight. You can say, "It seems like I read somewhere there's a federal law that says everyone can get their employer's health insurance regardless of their health."
- Complete the form - and return it to the highest level person in Human Resources you are comfortable taking it to. When you hand over the completed form, you could remind the person that the information must be kept confidential under law laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act. Alternatively, explain that there is some confidential medical information on it and you "hope" that the information does not become common knowledge. You can then ask the person point blank: "Who needs to know about this?" If the person is knowledgeable about confidentiality and discrimination laws at all, she will say "No one," and assure you that she will see that it is delivered on a confidential basis to the insurer. If the person doesn't seem so knowledgeable, you could hint something like, "Besides, isn't it a violation of a bunch of laws if medical information gets spread without my permission?"
- Complete more than one copy of the form. A benefits counselor in California reports that the following idea has worked for several people who considered it vital to keep their medical information out of their employer's hands. In California, insurance companies can require employees of groups with less than 50 employees to complete a medical questionnaire. This allows the companies to adjust the rates at renewal to a very limited degree on the basis of the group's health.
- Get two enrollments forms "…just in case I mess one up."
- Learn the name of the group (the employer's legal company name) and the group policy number (from a co-worker's ID card). It will help to have the name of the insurance agent or broker who sold the insurance to the employer- but this is not essential.
- Call the insurer. Ask for the office which receives enrollment forms from members of insured groups. (It may be a department such as Underwriting or Member Services.)
- Speak with a supervisor. Explain the situation: that you want to tell the insurance company the truth but without your employer knowing about your health condition. Ask if there is any way you can complete two copies of the form. On one form you will not disclose your health history. On the other form you will answer truthfully and completely. You will send the correct form directly to someone at the company by name and they will replace the untrue one you submit to the employer.
- If the insurer agrees, complete the forms. Submit the one with no mention of your health history to your employer. Submit the form with the correct information to your contact at the insurance company.