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HIPAA-Health Insurance Portability When You Change Jobs--There Doesn't Have to Be a Gap in Your Health Insurance


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Under the federal law known as  HIPAA , if you were covered by health insurance for a sufficient period of time, a new employer's coverage will take over at the end of the probationary period. There will not be a waiting period before coverage starts for pre-existing condition. HIPAA applies if the following conditions are met:

  • There are no more than 63 days between the termination of your former health insurance and the start of the new insurance, not counting any time you were in the new employer's probation period, and
  • You had any kind of health coverage, including through an employer, on your own, or through Medicare, or Medicaid, whether the coverage was on your own or through a spouse or parent.
  • the amount of time you had your health coverage must be counted toward fulfilling the new plan's Pre-Existing Conditions Waiting Period. So, if you have health coverage for 12 months, and there is no more than 63 days between coverages, you are not subject to any pre-existing condition waiting period because you get credit for the full 12 months. If you only had the coverage for 7 months, you can still be subjected to a pre-existing condition waiting period of 5 months (12 minus 7 = 5).

HIPAA does:

  • Provide that if your new employer provides health insurance for employees in a position which is similar to yours, you cannot be denied health insurance because of your medical history or current medical condition.
  • Make the transition from one plan to another easier by limiting the period of time a new employer can exclude a pre-existing condition and giving credit against the new exclusion for creditable coverage you already have.

HIPAA does not:

  • Allow you to take your health insurance from one employer to the next in spite of the word "portability" in the title of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
  • Require your new employer to offer health insurance in general, much less to any particular job category.

If there is a new waiting period you may still be covered under your earlier policy through what is known as a (free) extension of your current coverage, or you can pay for health coverage under COBRA until the new employer's health coverage starts for you. If a pre-existing condition waiting period may apply to you solely because you did not have a full 12 months of previous health coverage, see HIPAA -Pre-Existing Conditions

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