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New interactive tool helps you understand your HIPAA rights

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) developed an online interactive tool, HIPAA OnLine, designed to answer consumers' questions about health insurance rights under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Under certain circumstances, HIPAA enables people insured through employers or other groups to get and keep health insurance regardless of changes in employer, health, or family status. See The HIPAA law: Your rights to health insurance portability.

HIPAA OnLine is a free-to-use Web tool that guides you through a series of questions about your health coverage. The answers are tailored to match your personal circumstances, such as whether you have group or individual health insurance, or whether you're pregnant, changing jobs, or getting a divorce. The tool also provides information to employers about their HIPAA responsibilities and a section where they can learn more about their workers' health insurance rights.


In addition to HIPAA OnLine, CMS offers a 45-page booklet outlining steps to understand your health insurance protections under HIPAA. It includes information on the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, The Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996, and The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998.

"HIPAA OnLine and our new booklet can help millions of Americans make a more informed choice if they need to make a change in health coverage," says Tim Westmoreland, director of CMS's Center for Medicaid and State Operations. "Every year many Americans are affected by life events that may impact their health coverage needs such as the birth of a baby, the onset of a disabling disease, divorce, changing jobs, or changes made by their company."

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