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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


If you have health insurance through work and leave that work for any reason, you will want to make sure that you continue to have health insurance.

If you're not going to work for another employer that offers health insurance, or if you're going to be self employed, you have the following options to keep health insurance based on the coverage you've had through your employer:

  • Extensions
  • Right to individual health insurance provided by contract

If you're going to work for another employer, see HIPAA-Portability

If you're not going to obtain health insurance through one of the above methods, see:Obtaining Health Insurance.


An extension is a provision found in some health insurance policies. It's free which may be one reason it isn't talked about a lot.

Basically, if you have been filing claims under a health insurance policy, and the coverage ends, an extension continues to provide coverage for the condition(s) for which you were making a claim for up to 12 months from the end of coverage. Extensions generally apply whether coverage ends when you leave the group, or COBRA ends if you receive a COBRA extension.

It's important to note that:

  • An extension doesn't cover any health condition other than the one for which you were making claims when your coverage stopped.
  • No premiums are charged during the extension period.
  • Any conversion right you may have (see the next section immediately below), dates from later of the termination of your job or the end of COBRA-- not from the date the extension ends.

While extensions were very common in older policies, fewer policies contain extensions now. Many that do, only provide an extension if the coverage terminates due to the cancellation of the entire group. Read your policy carefully.

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Under COBRA and similar state laws, you have the right to continue your health coverage for both existing and new health conditions for a limited period of time. After that period of time, or right away if COBRA laws don't apply because your employer has too few employees, you should explore converting your group health insurance to individual health insurance. (See below.)

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Right To Individual Health Insurance Provided By Contract

Many employer group health insurance policies provide at least a limited right to convert the group policy to an individual policy. If your policy has this provision, you will be entitled to convert your health insurance to a policy of your own with the same health insurance company.

Generally the individual coverage must begin within 31 days of losing the group coverage.

An advantage to converting is that, without any questions asked, every health claim will be covered from day one of the new coverage. This includes claims for the health condition you had when you left your old employer.

Health insurance companies know that most of the people who exercise the right to convert a group health coverage have a health condition which prevents them from buying coverage on the open market. As a result, the insurance company will tell you which plan or plans are available to you. Most of the plans to which you can convert have low benefits and high premiums. It is not uncommon for a conversion plan to provide only $150 or $200 per day for hospitalization, a very low schedule of surgery fees, and no prescription coverage at all. These plans typically cost anywhere from $300 to $1,200 per month per person.

It is easy to see why this type of coverage is considered the last resort, when nothing else is available. However, there may be better coverage guaranteed to you under HIPAA, which is discussed next.

The Right To Purchase An Individual Health Insurance Policy Under HIPAA

The federal law generally referred to as HIPAA provides a right for people who are "federally eligible" to convert group health insurance to individual health insurance.