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How can I protect my health insurance benefits?

If you are losing your health insurance due to job loss or reduced hours, there are some important steps you should take. Women and their dependent children who lose their health insurance through divorce or death also are entitled to the following protection.

Get proof of previous health insurance coverage from your employer. This assures certain protections and rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA. Basically, HIPAA protects employed individuals and their families who are insured by continuing access to health insurance when leaving or changing jobs.You may be able to continue your group health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA. Generally, employers with 20 or more employees are subject to COBRA and must allow you the option to continue your health insurance benefits for at least 18 months after leaving your job. You will have to pay more than when you were employed because you also must pay the premium costs your employer used to pay for you. But you will receive the same health benefits while you look for another job or until you buy health insurance. In some cases, you can apply for health insurance continuance after using up your COBRA coverage through your state-mandated "High-Risk Pool" Insurance.Consider your health insurance situation carefully before agreeing to certain terms and conditions. This is very important if you and your spouse separate or divorce. Also, you may not want to give up certain survivor or retirement benefits as this could impact your health insurance benefits.A court order can be obtained to provide insurance coverage for children under a divorced parent's health plan, even if that parent does not have custody. This court order is called a qualified medical child support order.In most cases, there are strict time limitations in which to apply for benefits. So act quickly to get the right information and file the forms required in order to protect you and your family's health insurance.

The answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.