Can I get health insurance after my COBRA expires?

Question

I am currently insured by a COBRA plan. I'm contemplating going back to nursing school. The COBRA insurance will expire before I can complete the schooling. Can I get an individual policy in NC to cover my HIV? I've been positive for 11 years, no complications. I do take a once a day Atripla tablet.

Answer

A federal law, HIPAA, guarantees your right to purchase individual health insurance after continuing COBRA as long as legally possible. The requirements are you must have had continuous coverage for 18 months; the last carrier was a group plan (COBRA); and you purchase the individual plan within 63 days of losing your COBRA. Some states require you join one pooled plan while others require every insurance company writing health insurance in that state to offer you two plans. Ask your state insurance department or a local carrier to learn how it is done in your state. Coverage is usually broad; cost is higher than if you were in good health; and, you can keep it as long as you pay the premiums.