Family members of critically ill patients at risk because of economy

Healthcare costs are rising, and the economy has gone sour. Experts say the unique pressures of the current situation put critically ill patients who are on employer-provided health plans at risk, particularly if the employer plan is self-funded.

Sure, employers can lay off employees or terminate their benefits to cut their costs as they try to restore profit margins. However, it is illegal to take discriminatory action against employees with disabling medical conditions.

And changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act just went into effect on January 1, making it illegal to discriminate not only against the disabled, but also their associates in some cases. Thus employers who fire employees who have a family member with a disabling medical condition can expect legal challenges over whether their action was discriminatory.

The first few cases of this type have already made it to the courts, and we can expect to see more in the future.

To learn more about one such case:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece