As open enrollment kicks off, here’s an under-the-radar issue to be mindful of as you shop around for group health plans: employee’s rights after a mastectomy.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In observance, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a reminder about the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) and employer-sponsored healthcare plans.
As you may recall, WHCRA is a federal law that provides protections to patients who choose to undergo breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. The law applies to:
- group health plans provided by an employer or a union, and
- individual health insurance policies.
Employee rights after a mastectomy
Though the DOL’s resource primarily focuses on employee education, it also covers the following topics and scenarios that may provide insight for employers:
- Required notices of rights under WHCRA.
- Employees who plan to have a mastectomy for medical reasons other than cancer.
- Exceptions to the law for some “church plans” and “government plans.”
- An employee changed jobs after having breast removal surgery but before having reconstructive surgery.
- An employer changed group health plans after an employee had breast removal surgery but before reconstructive surgery was completed.