HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

HIPAA stands for The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 which differs from COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.  COBRA requires employers with more than 20 employers to offer eligible employees a continuation of health care coverage.  

HIPAA helps employees who are switching jobs afraid of possibly being considered under pre-existing limitations by the new employer's health insurance plan.  HIPAA requires employers to provide a Certificate of Coverage when you leave your job to present to your new employer.  HIPAA rules applies to every employer group health plan that has at least two participants and who are current employees (includes companies classified as self-insured.)  States may opt to have "groups" of one to be considered by the rules.  

HIPAA only works when you move from one group health plan to another and it does not work if you leave your group health plan to an individual plan.  Essentially, the Certificate shows the time earned on your group health plan to be considered with the new health plan.  If you previously met the pre-existing time limit by having group coverage for more than 24 months for instance, you are credited these 24 months towards your new group health plan, preventing you from meeting this requirement again.

For more information on HIPAA, please visit http://www.hcfa.gov/medicaid//hipaa/online/340001.asp