Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

Typically when I blog, I try to provide interesting sourced information on what is going on in our world today as it applies to the learning profession.

Albeit a bit atypical, a personal story about FMLA and why it is so important to your ‘well-being’. Not only is this legislation a godsend for employees of either sex to take time off when a new baby is on the way, or an illness, the other gift it brings is securing your employee spot, and your health insurance until you can return to work. Please see the particulars about the law as noted in the DoL guide.

Several weeks ago, my husband went directly into the emergency room and into a 3-day stay in the ICU and was transferred to a regular hospital bed for a period of 3-weeks. The reason, septic shock. (See description below)

Septic shock is a possible consequence of bacteremia, or bacteria in the bloodstream. Bacterial toxins, and the immune system response to them, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, preventing the delivery of blood to the organs. Septic shock can lead to multiple organ failure including respiratory failure, and may cause rapid death. Toxic shock syndrome is one type of septic shock”.

Septic shock is usually preceded by bacteremia, which is marked by fever, malaise, chills, and nausea. The first sign of shock is often confusion and decreased consciousness. In this beginning stage, the extremities are usually warm. Later, they become cool, pale, and bluish. Fever may give way to lower than normal temperatures later on in sepsis.

Other symptoms include:
• Rapid heartbeat
• Shallow, rapid breathing
• Decreased urination.
• Reddish patches in the skin

Septic shock may progress to cause “adult respiratory distress syndrome,” in which fluid collects in the lungs, and breathing becomes very shallow and labored. This condition may lead to ventilatory collapse, in which the patient can no longer breathe adequately without assistance”. See the web link below for further information.

So, why am I telling you this story, and why do you need to understand what to do immediately as a partner to engage the FMLA to save a job and maintain your health insurance.

During an emergency, most of us do not think of the logical steps required to pay for such intensive care in a hospital. Yet, without protecting your job, and the termination of healthcare benefits you could be left paying thousands of dollars (over 6 figures) yourself if you don’t take the time to get the needed FMLA paperwork completed ASAP. Provided you live or not through the situation, the bills keep coming in for medical care received and without a legal method to save your job; you would face the potential of losing that job as well, provided you survived.

I was fortunate enough to have reacted immediately within the first four days and got the FMLA coverage in place with my husband’s employer. Yes, the downside is the leave is unpaid and yes you still have to pay the same rate for your health plan as if you were receiving a paycheck, yet the alternative is worse.

Additionally, understand how your health insurance works; understand that in today’s healthcare arena you are on your own. Being an educated consumer can save your sanity and thousands of dollars in misinformation of claims handling. The calls to collect money begin the day you get released from the hospital. The stress of those phone calls and the very little healthcare management receive in your discharge and your continued recuperation and prolonged health concerns is very disconcerting.
Take charge of your health and manage your own decisions. Be cognoscente of the fact that the defensive medicine being practiced today does little to think through the patient’s nutritional, psychological, and emotional well-being. Take the time to understand the prescriptions being recommended and how that will make you physically feel and listen to what your body is telling you. If you are not getting the help you need from your medical team, do what you can to get the required services so you can recover and get well quicker. Again, manage your healthcare.

As mentioned, get to know your health insurance and make wise-decisions when benefits are being offered at your company such as short-term disability, (pennies on the dollar) especially if your organization offers no sick-days. During the FMLA unpaid leave from work the bills still come in and need to be paid. Short-term disability will provide some economic relief.

In summary, during this economic depression, the costs of all goods and services have gone up and continue to go up. In the WSJ on Saturday there was a timely article about your employee health benefits and the election period coming up in November. Study your new programs carefully. Sign up for benefits that are offered to you including group term life insurance. Once you have an illness such as septic shock the chances of you getting insured without an additional cost is slim to none.

Group life insurance can get converted to whole insurance (yes at a premium), yet it is better to know you have options to make decisions about rather than having no options. The decisions you make today can make a huge difference in your family’s life and well-being. You will have done the right thing and make sure there are benefits available when you are sick and unable to work.

See the information below about the Health Insurance article… the Right Health-Care Plan

It’s Benefit-Election Time for 2012, and—Surprise! —Employers Are Passing Along More Costs;
Dealing With a ‘Health Coach WSJ – OCTOBER 22, 2011

“Here’s why you should be paying more attention.
You’ll probably be paying more next year.
According to early results of a survey by Mercer, a consulting unit of Marsh & McLennan, about a third of employers are going to bump up the deductible, co-payments or annual out-of-pocket maximum. About 7% will boost some other type of cost-sharing.
You should delve into the details of plans’ charges before you choose one. Keep an eye out for where you will owe co-insurance, which is a percentage of the cost of care and tends to be more expensive than a flat co-pay, and for fees that may not count toward your out-of-pocket maximum.
Monthly contributions also will increase in 2012—to a projected average of $2,697 a year for an individual employee, up from $2,525, according to a survey from benefits-consulting firm Towers Watson. The bite will be sharpest for plans that cover families, and may include additional surcharges on spouses who can get insurance elsewhere, says Randall Abbott, a senior consulting leader at Towers Watson.
High-deductible plans paired with tax-free savings accounts have been gaining ground for years, and insurer Cigna says their popularity is up another 35% so far in 2011 among its employer clients. That doesn’t include the large bump that will happen on Jan 1.”

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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.