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Portability of Blue Cross Blue Shield
May 28, 2012

Hi Jacques, My partner of 24 years has an opportunity to relocate to San Diego Ca (we are living in Boston, MA). I would like to follow him there but this means that I would need to quit my job and then not have health coverage. Can you take COBRA if you quit a job and would it be portable to another state? I have Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO Blue. I am really worried about having health coverage without lapses. Is there anything else I should do to protect meyself? Thanks for you help!

Response from Mr. Chambers

COBRA does work out of state, HOWEVER, you mention you are on an HMO plan. With most HMO plans, their coverage is no longer good if you move out of their service area, which for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, usually means your state, MA in this case.

Does your employer offer several health plans at enrollment and you chose the HMO, although there was a PPO or other indemnity plan which is probably more expensive? If so, because you are leaving your HMO's service area, your employer is required to let you switch to the plan that would cover you in California.

You may also want to check to see if Blue Cross/Blue Shield has any reciprocal arrangement with either Anthem Blue Cross or Blue Shield of California (they're separate in California) that would allow you to use their HMO network out in California.

If you can't take your COBRA coverage to California, you are eligible to buy a guarantee issue plan under HIPAA as long as you purchase it within 63 days of your coverage ending (if there is no COBRA extension due to moving out of service area). You should contact California insurance carriers for their HIPAA coverage.

Good luck, Jacques



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