If you exhaust your COBRA coverage but are not yet eligible for Medicare or some other type of health insurance, a HIPAA plan, also known as a federally insured plan or guaranteed issue plan, may be an option.
HIPAA plans are different from COBRA. With COBRA you are extending the coverage you once had through an employer-sponsored health plan. When you purchase a HIPAA plan, you are buying new insurance. This means you should compare all the HIPAA plans for which you are eligible and pick the one that is best for you.
To be eligible for a HIPAA plan you:
- Must have exhausted your COBRA coverage, meaning that you have used all 18 months of COBRA coverage, and any additional COBRA coverage available to you
- Cannot have a break in health insurance coverage longer than 63 days
- Must be ineligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or any other form of group coverage
If you are coming to the end of COBRA coverage or are having difficulty affording COBRA coverage, it may be wise to look into HIPAA plans offered in your state. Under federal law, you have a right to purchase a HIPAA plan if you meet the criteria. Every insurer who writes health insurance policies in your state must offer a HIPAA plan. When you call to ask about this option you may need to clarify that you are asking about “guaranteed issue plans” or “HIPAA plans” to be sure the insurance company understands what you are requesting.