Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Generally, HIPAA restricts the use of preexisting condition exclusions, creates special enrollment periods and prohibits discrimination based on health-status related conditions in enrollment and premiums. HIPAA also creates an obligation for most group health plans or their insurers to provide certificates of creditable coverage to individuals who ceased to be covered by a group health plan. Administration of the certificate requirements is often coordinated with administration of COBRA. Because HIPAA requires a certificate to be issued not only when coverage first ceases, but also when COBRA coverage ceases, HIPAA effectively creates a new notice requirement in COBRA administration when COBRA coverage expires or is terminated. HIPAA also protects your Personal Health Information (PHI). This maintains confidentiality in anything involved with your healthcare, conditions and private information.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, a federal law in effect since 1986. COBRA permits you and your dependents to continue in your employer’s group health plan after your job ends. If your employer has 20 or more employees, you may be eligible for COBRA continuation coverage when you retire, quit, are fired, or work reduced hours. Continuation coverage also extends to surviving, divorced or separated spouses; dependent children; and children who lose their dependent status under their parent’s plan rules. You may choose to continue in the group health plan for a limited time and pay the full premium (including the share your employer used to pay on your behalf) plus a 2% administrative fee. COBRA continuation coverage generally lasts 18 months, or 36 months for dependents in certain circumstances. See also State Continuation Coverage.