insurance

Keeping your pre-existing conditions covered

Jack HungelmannDear Insurance Adviser,
I currently have group health insurance through my employer. My employer purchases this insurance through a business association, and I think the policy is in the name of the business association. If my employer goes out of business or if I quit, could I get an individual policy? I have pre-existing conditions. Would the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, help me get this policy without exclusions for pre-existing conditions? Would I have to apply for COBRA prior to going the HIPAA route?

Thank you so much!
-- Concerned About Coverage

Dear Concerned,
Keeping your health insurance in force is critically important, especially for someone with pre-existing medical conditions that would preclude you from qualifying for individual coverage in the open market.

The good news for you is that whether you quit, get laid off or your employer goes out of business, you're assured of having access to continuous health insurance with coverage for your pre-existing conditions.

If you quit or get laid off, you will be able to continue your current group coverage under COBRA for 18 months at your expense. After that time, you can switch to a similar individual policy under HIPAA and can keep it all the way to Medicare.

If, on the other hand, your employer drops its group coverage or goes out of business, there won't be a COBRA option. You would immediately be able to access individual coverage under HIPAA.

I hope that this helps ease your pre-existing conditions concerns.

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