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RedPowerLady's avatar

Can someone help me understand what portability health insurance is?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12598points) May 20th, 2010

Can someone help me understand what Portability health insurance is and how it differs from Cobra?

Also I noticed that Cobra covers dental care. Does Portability?

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12 Answers

janbb's avatar

I may be wrong on this, but I believe portability insurance would mean you can continue the policy with no time limits after leaving the job; COBRA only continues for 18 months after you leave the job. I think either could or could not have dental depending on the plan you were coverd under.

YARNLADY's avatar

Portability Insurance is coverage that does not depend on your job. You pay the premiums and you are covered all the time. The coverage depends on what you pay for.

jaytkay's avatar

COBRA is a limited form of portability, meaning you can keep your insurance after you leave a job. But only for 18 months. If your employer paid part of your insurance premium (most do), your premiums will increase (usually a lot) to cover your former employer’s contribution.

The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA”) reduces the time you can be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition when you join a new health plan. Separate dental plans are not included. If you have dental in your overall plan (for example, your HMO gives you dental as well as medical care) then dental is included.

It’s complicated and varies a lot depending on circumstances.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Sorry I’m still confused. Why would anyone choose Cobra over Portability then? And why are they offered as two separate choices?

janbb's avatar

Are they both offered by the same company/job? If so, does one (COBRA) have a lower employee contribution?

jaytkay's avatar

COBRA is about extending your old plan. HIPAA is about joining a new plan. They seem like totally separate things to me. Is the choice is between continuing your old COBRA plan and joining a new plan? Or maybe I am misunderstanding the question.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@janbb Yes they are both offered by the same company. I don’t have the portability information yet. I hope they have different rates. Cobra is horribly expensive.

@jaytkay I really don’t understand what portability is. If it is it’s own policy or if it is an extenuation of what I already have or what. I’m very confused and the website that explains it is confusing me even more. Is HIPAA then it’s own plan? I mean why would my employer, after I quit my job, have to send me information on portability insurance? When I read the website it seems more like a set of protections vs. something that needs signed up for. So confused.

jaytkay's avatar

I’m confused too, I don’t want to throw out more guesses because I don’t know enough about the situation.

If this is all concerning a former employer, I would ask their HR department to help wade through it.

perspicacious's avatar

Actually I thought this meant you could take your insurance with you across state lines.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@jaytkay Ya but the HR is a well difficult to say the least ;). I can wait until I get the papers but was hoping to have some understanding before then.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

COBRA is when you are laid off of work; it extends your coverage up to 18 months as long as you pay the full cost of the plan, both your share and the employer share.

Since you quit, it’s entirely possible that the employer is getting ready to change insurance carriers. Since you are not an employee who will be enrolling in the new plan with the new carrier, they offering you a Portability plan, which is new insurance that you can enroll in that has a 6 month look back period for pre-existing conditions, as opposed to 12 or 18 months. Almost all states have what’s called a “pre-existing condition exclusion clause” for all products (some states exempt HMO plans from pre-ex). If you were to get a new job and be added to a plan at the new employer, you would be subject to pre-ex unless you could show continuity of coverage from the time you left your old employer. If you were to start a new job, and got new coverage, and developed cancer 3 months after starting the job, you would not be covered if your new plan had a pre-ex clause.

The other option is a conversion plan, which is state mandated insurance. They should offer you that as well.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@PandoraBoxx You seem to have a good grip on this.

I’ve never heard of a conversion plan. But thank you for the information. I’m still a bit confused but that does clear some of it up for me. I guess I’ll just wait and see what I get from them and make decisions accordingly. I saw an insurance broker and he is the one that told me my work would have to give me Cobra information and probably Portability
information. I do have a pre-existing condition unfortunately and can’t get regular insurance :( So I’m stuck paying Cobra premiums which are horribly high unless there is something better. I guess I was hoping Portability would somehow be better, haha. Still don’t get how it plays into my situation but I guess I will find out.

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