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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Health Benefits Work for You

7. HIPAA Can Also Help If You are Changing Jobs

HIPAA generally limits pre-existing condition exclusions to a maximum of 12 months (18 months for late enrollees). HIPAA also requires this maximum period to be reduced by the length of time you had prior creditable coverage. You should receive a certificate documenting your prior creditable coverage from your old plan when coverage ends. To find out more, read Questions & Answers: Recent Changes in Health Care Law.

8. Plan for Retirement

Before you retire, find out what health benefits, if any, extend to you and your spouse during your retirement years. Consult with your employer's human resources office, your union, the plan administrator, and check your SPD. Make sure there is no conflicting information among these sources about the benefits you will receive or the circumstances under which they can change or be eliminated. With this information in hand, you can make other important choices, like finding out if you are eligible for Medicare and Medigap insurance coverage.

9. Know How to File an Appeal if Your Health Benefits Claim Is Denied

Understand how your plan handles grievances and where to make appeals of the plan's decisions. Keep records and copies of correspondence. Check your health benefits package and your SPD to determine who is responsible for handling problems with benefit claims. Contact EBSA for customer service assistance if you are unable to obtain a response to your complaint.

10. Take Steps to Improve the Quality of Health Care and Benefits You Receive

Look for and use things like Quality Reports and Accreditation Reports whenever you can. Quality reports may contain consumer ratings -- how satisfied consumers are with the doctors in their plan, for instance-- and clinical performance measures -- how well a health care organization prevents and treats illness. Accreditation reports provide information on how accredited organizations meet national standards, and often include clinical performance measures. Look for these quality measures whenever possible. For more information, see Choosing and Using a Health Plan.

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