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The HIPAA Tango Continues (Anthem Blue Cross)

For those who may be looking at my HIPAA page and wondering what is going on with Anthem Blue Cross enrollments, I thought this might help (I hope!).

Effective 5/1/10, Anthem has a new enrollment process for HIPAA plans. The process works like this: application and supporting documents to get approval to enroll, premium notice sent out upon Anthem's "OK" to enroll (approval), then you pay future premium to get future start date. Gaps can run 30, 60, 90 days or more. Sounds crazy, huh?

I have spent the better part of this week tee-ing off Anthem trying to get clarification and work-arounds for enrollments for Californians in need of HIPAA coverage and don't want to gap coverage.

So, to answer the question of whether or not there would be a necessary gap in coverage from group to HIPAA, a firm "maybe". It is going to depend on how early on we can start the process.

It is possible to enroll under the new system at Anthem and have a seamless start date. But it is tricky. Here's what needs to happen to make it work.

60 days prior to the expiration of continuation (or loss of group is terminating active coverage), we will need to provide some or all of the following to help get you enrolled:

1. Completed HIPAA enrollment application.
2. Copy of Termination Notice (either COBRA, Cal-COBRA or from group. This is a letter you receive about 60 days prior to exhaustion indicating that your continuation coverage will expire on a certain date.
3. Records to reflect payments of premiums for the full period including the final month (bank online statements, letter from administrator, etc.). Something to show you've made 18 or 36 months of premium payments (if continuation coverage).
4. Copy of current health insurance ID card and name of employer (usually on the card)for those not eligible for the Cal-COBRA extension to 36 months.
5. If covered 1st 18 months federal COBRA and now on Cal-COBRA extension, a copy of your group health certificate issued after federal COBRA expiration (from the COBRA Administrator or Health Plan)

The purpose of such documentation is twofold. One, we need to help you get Anthem Blue Cross to generate a premium payment "approval letter" as soon as possible within the 60 days prior to eligibility date so that you can submit your HIPAA premium and receive your desired 1st of month start date. Two, your Group Health Certificate (Certificate of Creditable Coverage/Certificate of Prior Health Coverage, it goes by several names) will normally not be provided until 10 days AFTER the expiration of the group health plan. Anthem has stated that they will accept "substitute" proof of exhaustion in lieu of the CoCC to expedite the enrollment process.


  1. Is there any cheaper way to get insured than these rip-off HIPPA policies?

  2. Currently only via underwritten individual health or an employer-sponsored group plan.

    Soon there will be a temporary high risk pool (federal) which is supposed to limit premiums to not be greater than the standard plan premium through underwriting.

    The only caveat is that the temporary risk pool requires anyone enrolling to be uninsurable (no group option, declined from underwriting, etc.) and not have had coverage in the preceeding six months.

    Major reform changes won't take place until 2014.


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