Pre-Existing Conditions

A pre-existing condition is a medical condition diagnosed or treated before joining a new plan. In the past, health care given for a pre-existing condition often has not been covered for someone who joins a new plan until after a waiting period. However, a new law—called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—changes the rules.

Under the law, most of which goes into effect on July 1, 1997, a pre-existing condition will be covered without a waiting period when you join a new group plan if you have been insured the previous 12 months. This means that if you remain insured for 12 months or more, you will be able to go from one job to another, and your pre-existing condition will be covered—without additional waiting periods—even if you have a chronic illness.

If you have a pre-existing condition and have not been insured the previous 12 months before joining a new plan, the longest you will have to wait before you are covered for that condition is 12 months.

To find out how this new law affects you, check with either your employer benefits office or your health plan.

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