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If you go on Cobra with HIV
May 7, 2012

I work in benefits so I am aware that Cobra will be for 18 mo and that it can be extended. However, my companies insurance is self insured. Once the 18 months is over how hard will it be to get private insurance?

Response from Mr. Chambers

COBRA allows you continue on your employer's plan for 18 months generally. If you are disabled and qualify for Social Security Disability, you can extend that COBRA, but ONLY IF you advise your COBRA administrator of your SSDI award within 60 days of receiving it.

Otherwise, once you have taken COBRA as long as you can, there is a federal law called HIPAA that applies to all employee welfare benefit plans, self-funded and insured. You have a right under HIPAA to purchase an individual health insurance plan regardless of your medical condition as long as you purchase it within 63 days of your COBRA ending.

Although it is a federal law, it is left to the states to administer it. Some states require everyone to enroll in a pooled high risk plan. Other states require that every insurance company writing health insurance in their state must offer two broad plans to such enrollees.

As your COBRA ends, you will receive a "Certificate of Creditable Coverage" from your plan's administrator giving you the start and stop dates of your coverage. That is your ticket into the HIPAA coverage.

Before your COBRA ends, I recommend find out what your state does. You can get a listing by state at this site. Please ignore the suggested conversion option given at the link if possible. Conversion plans are historically very limited coverage. at this site.

Good luck, Jacques



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