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HIV + Cobra + "private insurance"
Mar 30, 2004

Thank you in advance for your advice...

I am contemplating leaving my current employer for a very small consulting firm. I'm told that this firm doesn't provide health insurance. If I COBRA for 18 months, is there any way to determine what my monthly outlay will be? (I need to know so that I can adjust my salary requirement accordingly.)

More importantly, after 18 months, when COBRA runs out, can I switch to a private health insurer? Will it be astronomically expensive? Most importantly...with HIPPA, will private insurance companies have access to info revealing my HIV+ status?

Many thanks...

Response from Ms. Franzoi

Your COBRA premium will depend on your current employer's cost for the health coverage because COBRA premiums are 102% of the employer's cost. Contact your HR or Benefits Department and ask them what the COBRA premium is. COBRA premiuums usually change each January so be prepared for an increase at that time.

When COBRA runs out, you can apply for an individual policy with any insurer that offers individual plans. However, you will probably have to purchase a HIPAA policy which is typically more expensive. Although HIPAA provides privacy rights, you will have to answer a medical questionnaire to purchase a health policy and this would include information on your HIV status.

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