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Government Shutdown Raises Employee Benefit Questions For Private Sector Employers Too

Jeff Griffin

Staff of private sector employers – those who have immediate family members affected by the government shutdown - are asking employee benefit questions of their employers which are entirely new to them.

Chief among them is the question of if the government furlough is considered a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) for any affected government employee. A QLE would allow the impacted individual to move over to their family’s private sector, or unaffected public sector health plan if the worker is otherwise eligible. This event would also trigger a Special Enrollment Opportunity.

According to benefits compliance experts ThinkHR, employees who choose to quit their jobs during this tumultuous period do, in fact, create a QLE. This would simply be considered a “change in employment status”, which includes:

  • Quitting a job or being laid off
  • Being hired (keeping in mind waiting periods, if applicable)
  • Gaining or losing benefits by moving from part-time to full time employment status (or vice versa)

What’s less clear is if a furloughed employee who doesn’t intend to quit their job can jump to their family member’s health coverage, either permanently, or for a shorter period of time.

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Topics: Spousal Coverage, Dependent Coverage, Qualifying Life Events, Special Enrollment Periods, Special Enrollment Opportunity

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