COBRA and HIPAA Save the Working Day

If you’ve lost your job, then you’re likely worried about medical coverage.

Losing a job these days in this recession seems to be far more common than we would like it to be. Those who still have jobs may even be thinking about quitting to work somewhere else with more stability, but are scared their health insurance provider won’t take them on because of a pre-existing condition. In either of these situations, you can rely on COBRA or HIPAA. Both of these protect coverage if you are switching workplaces.

For those of you not familiar with the acronyms COBRA and HIPAA, they stand for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reduction Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In terms of COBRA it will let workers extend health coverage when their employer’s policy ends.

There are a number of reasons why that may happen, including your job is terminated, if you were covered but coverage is stopped because of legal separation or divorce, and in the event of a disability. There are other reasons as well, but it is best to speak with a qualified health insurance broker and have everything laid out in plain English.

Generally speaking, in most states, this kind of coverage is limited to workplaces with 20 or more workers. Having said that, there are states that have the minimum amount of employees, two. You need to ask an insurance expert what is applicable where you live.

Let’s say you’re out of a job. You now have 60 days to continue coverage under COBRA. If you choose to go that route, you then you have 45 days to pay your retroactive premiums. Once the premiums are caught up you will have coverage unless and until you cancel it, you stop paying premiums, become eligible for another policy or Medicare, or the COBRA continuation period has maxed out. Again, you really need to check all this out with an expert insurance agent who will be able to outline what you need to do and what will happen in various situations.

On the other side of the coin, HIPAA lets people switch companies and get approved whether they have pre-existing conditions or not. It’s pretty straightforward and simple. The company you go to must accept you. Again, there are a multitude of things you will need to know about HIPAA protections; e.g. pregnancy/prenatal health problems are not pre-existing conditions.

Also speak to your insurance broker about acknowledging credit for prior insurance polices in the previous 12 months, etc. Rather than be confused, take the time to consult with a knowledgeable health insurance agent who can help you keep your health coverage while switching employers.

Randy Gillespie is with Illinois health insurance agency, Focus Insurance Group. To learn more about Illinois health insurance, Illinois health insurance quotes, Illinois group health insurance or to get an Illinois health insurance quotes, visit

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