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Benefits Package

Once you’ve been offered a job—or when you change jobs—look carefully at the benefits package being offered.

Here are some important items to consider when reviewing the health insurance plan:

  • What type of policy is it (HMO, PPO, high-deductible health plan with a health savings account, or something else)?
  • What are the copays?
  • What are the premiums?
  • Does it allow you to keep your current doctors?
  • Does it cover factor?
  • Does it have lifetime or annual spending caps that might require you to pay more?
  • Does it have out-of-pocket limits?
To learn more about insurance, go to Insurance.

You might consider bringing the benefits package to your Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) for a social worker or other staff member to review. The HTC may be able to help you understand what is being offered and what, if any, other information you need to be certain your health care needs are sufficiently covered.

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When You Must Miss Work

Disability insurance, like life insurance, is used to protect future earnings. Disability insurance will replace your income in the event that you become physically unable to work. Although it gets less attention than life insurance, experts agree that disability coverage is at least as important. While most people are prepared for the medical costs of severe injury or sickness (through health insurance), without disability insurance, they are not prepared for the loss of wages that accompanies such a health-related event.

In general, if you count on your salary to pay the rent and buy food, you should seriously consider disability coverage. Many employers offer disability insurance for their employees; however, the plans vary greatly, and some may not offer adequate coverage. Furthermore, any disability payouts from an employer's policy are subject to taxes, while payouts from individual policies are not. Individual disability coverage is generally much more expensive than employer disability coverage; nevertheless, you should review any policies your employer has taken out, and consider purchasing individual coverage if the policy is insufficient.

Types of Disability Coverage

If your doctor determines that you cannot work for a specific amount of time, two forms of disability coverage may be suitable.

Here’s your chance to review short-term and long-term disability.

Short-Term Disability

This coverage replaces a portion of lost salary in the event the policy owner misses six months or less of work. The coverage typically begins after all sick leave is exhausted, and replaces close to 100% of wages for the first payouts. If the policy owner remains unable to work, however, the payments will eventually drop, often to 60% of wages. The length of coverage and payment percentage vary from plan to plan, but these numbers are typical.

Some states have their own mandates for short-term disability and may have different requirements. Currently there is no federal law that requires employers to offer short-term disability benefits to their employees. For more information on short-term disability in your area, please contact your state department of insurance office.

Long-Term Disability

Some experts contend that long-term disability insurance is the most important insurance you can purchase. This can be partially attributed to advances in medical care; some diseases and injuries are now disabling rather than fatal, meaning that the incapacitation can be lengthy. Typically, long-term disability insurance can be purchased to replace 50% to 70% of salary. Some employers allow employees to purchase extra insurance from the same company, sometimes raising the total to 80%. Note, however, that some policies have monthly maximum payouts, which may reduce the actual percentage of salary the policy owner receives. The salary is set at the time the policy is purchased, and you will likely want to increase the value of the plan as your compensation increases. Some plans only allow increases with a physical examination, while some allow increases without a physical for the first few years of the plan, and some have other rules; check the plan for its particulars. Long-term disability policies vary in the length of payout: some policies will only pay out for 5 or 10 years, some will pay out until age 65. Experts recommend the latter. Policies also vary in definition of disability (some contentious categories include mental illness and back injuries) and exclusionary criteria (pre-existing medical conditions, injuries from dangerous activities, etc.).

Social Security

Social Security is not a replacement or surrogate for disability insurance; at the most, it should be a last resort for those who can't get private coverage. Not everyone is eligible for Social Security benefits, even once disabled—the applicant must have significant work history, must have been unable to work for a year or more, and must not be able to work in any capacity.

The Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees with 12 weeks of medical leave per year and requires employers to maintain health coverage for those employees during that time. It applies to:

  • Government agencies, including schools, state, and federal agencies.
  • Private employers with 50 or more employees.

You’re only eligible for FMLA protection if you have worked for one of the above types of employers for at least 12 months, worked at least part time, and worked in an office with at least 50 employees. Under the law, your employer may require you to use your paid leave before the FMLA kicks in.