Worried about horror tales you've heard warning of people rejected for insurance coverage because they're HIV-positive? It's generally not an issue any longer'thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It is vital, however, that HIVers who switch from one form of health coverage to another understand how HIPAA protects them against discrimination.
HIPAA prevents insurers from imposing any preexisting-condition restrictions on your care. If you are applying to purchase an individual insurance policy on the private market, every insurer must offer you a choice of at least two plans. However, the law does not limit the rates private insurers can charge.
The most important thing to understand when starting a new job or shopping for private insurance is that HIPAA's protections are jeopardized if you become uninsured for 63 days or longer, but there is some wiggle room. For example, if your coverage has lapsed beyond 63 days, an employer-sponsored group plan (or a private plan in New York, New Jersey, Maine, or Vermont) can restrict your HIV care only for the amount of time you were uninsured'up to one year. Most private carriers in other states will automatically reject you if you lapse. For more information visit www.cms.hhs.gov/hippa.