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What is HIPAA and what are its benefits?

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.