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Moving on
May 9, 2006

Thank you for a helpful forum. I am currently self-emoployed and have an individual health plan with an HMO in Ohio. I would like to move to a larger city but cannot take my coverage with me as my provider is only available in a few states. Fear of leaving my great coverage is preventing me from living my life. I am healthy (on meds.) and expect to find employment wherever I end up. I am considering changing my address to that of a local friends' in order to keep my coverage until I find work. My friend is willing to forward my mail-order meds on to me. If I find employment in a new city that offers a health plan, are they required to offer it to me? Is there likely to be any waiting period for pre-existing conditions? Or can they simply not cover pre-existing conditions? I have been positive for two years and this fear of leaving my coverage is preventing me from moving on. Any advice? I am considering Houston as I have a wonderful friend there willing to help me with lodging until I get on my feet. I don't make much money now and know that better things await in a more metropolitan area. I appreciate any advice you can offer or any referals to other sources for support.

Response from Ms. Franzoi

If you were to move to a new city and become employed in a job that offers you health coverage, as long as you sign up during the inital enrollment period, you will be eligible for coverage under your new employer's plan. Some plans have waiting periods before coverage begins. They can vary from immediate coverage to 30 days to 3 months or longer. It depends on the plan design but these are the most common ones. As long as you do not have a break in coverage of greater than 63 days, even if your new employer's plan has a pre-exisiting condition exclusion clause (which cannot be greater than 12 months), the plan would have to count your period of prior coverage towards that pre-exisitng exclusion period. This is called Creditable Coverage.

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