The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act (HIPAA) went into effect on July 1, 1997. It protects an insured
person's insurability. Before this law, if an insured person lost
insurance coverage for some reason, losing a job for example, he or
she could be required to prove insurability before obtaining new
coverage. For most people this wasn't a problem; however, for people
with chronic health problems or whose health deteriorated while they
were covered, it was a serious problem. Such people lived in constant
fear of losing their jobs and thereby losing their health insurance.
Now, if a person has been insured for the past 12 months, a new
insurance company cannot refuse to cover the person and cannot impose
preexisting conditions or a waiting period before providing coverage.