Helpful Terms

We regret that, because of a loss of financial support, this website no longer provides current information. As a result, the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute cannot warrant the accuracy or adequacy of the information or materials on this site. If you are interested in supporting the work of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, please contact us at (202) 687-0880. Thank you.

Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA). ATAA is a benefit for workers at least 50 years old who have obtained different, full-time employment within 26 weeks of the termination of adversely-affected employment. These worker may receive 50% of the wage differential (up to $10,000) during their 2 year eligibility period. To be eligible for the ATAA program, workers may not earn more than $50,000 per year in their new employment. Also, the firm where the workers worked must meet certain eligibility criteria.

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Program which provides free screening for breast and cervical cancer to eligible Indiana residents. Eligible women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer may be eligible for free health coverage through Medicaid for treatment of their condition.

Certificate of Creditable Coverage. A document provided by your health plan that lets you prove you had coverage under that plan. Certificates of creditable coverage will usually be provided automatically when you leave a health plan. You can obtain certificates at other times as well. See also Creditable Coverage.

COBRA. Stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, a federal law in effect since 1986. COBRA permits you and your dependents to continue in your employer’s group health plan after your job ends. If your employer has 20 or more employees, you may be eligible for COBRA continuation coverage when you retire, quit, are fired, or work reduced hours. Continuation coverage also extends to surviving, divorced or separated spouses; dependent children; and children who lose their dependent status under their parent’s plan rules. You may choose to continue in the group health plan for a limited time and pay the full premium (including the share your employer used to pay on your behalf). COBRA continuation coverage generally lasts 18 months, or 36 months for dependents in certain circumstances.

Continuous Coverage. In general, health insurance coverage that is not interrupted by a break of 63 or more consecutive days. Employer waiting periods do not count as gaps in health insurance coverage for the purpose of determining if coverage is continuous. If you are buying ICHIA coverage and you are not HIPAA eligible, you must apply within 6 months of losing prior coverage. See also ICHIA.

Conversion Policy. A policy that must be offered to you if you lose coverage under a fully insured group health plan in Indiana that you had been enrolled in for at least three months. You must not be eligible for a group health plan, and you must request the conversion policy within 30 days of becoming eligible for it. See also Fully Insured Group Health Plan.

Creditable Coverage (ICHIA). Health insurance coverage that was involuntarily terminated and that had a similar pre-existing condition exclusion. See also Continuous Coverage, ICHIA.

Creditable Coverage (Group Health Plan). Health insurance coverage under any of the following: a group health plan; individual health insurance; Medicare; Medicaid; CHAMPUS and TRICARE (health coverage for military personnel, retirees, and dependents); the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; Indian Health Service; the Peace Corps; Public Health Plan (any plan established or maintained by a State, the U.S. government, a foreign country); State Children’s Health Insurance Program; or a state health insurance risk pool. See also Continuous Coverage, Group Health Plan, Individual Health Insurance.

Elimination Rider. An amendment permitted in individual health insurance policies that permanently excludes your coverage for a health condition, body part, or body system. Elimination riders are not permitted in Indiana.

Enrollment Period. The period during which all employees and their dependents can sign up for coverage under an employer group health plan. Besides permitting workers to elect health benefits when first hired, many employers and group health insurers hold an annual enrollment period, during which all employees can enroll in or change their health coverage. See also Group Health Plan, Special Enrollment Period.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A federal law that guarantees up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for certain employees when they need to take time off due to serious illness, to have or adopt a child, or to care for another family member. When you qualify for leave under FMLA, you can continue coverage under your group health plan.

Fully Insured Group Health Plan. Health plan purchased by an employer from an insurance company. Fully insured health plans are regulated by Indiana. See also Self-Insured Group Health Plans.

Genetic Information. Genetic test results indicating your or a member of your family’s risk of developing a health condition. Genetic information includes the existence or history of a disease or disorder in a family member. Genetic services, including genetic counseling and education received by you or a family member, is also considered part of your genetic information.

Group Health Plan. Health plan (usually sponsored by an employer, union or professional association) that covers at least 2 employees. See also Fully Insured Group Health Plan, Self-Insured Group Health Plan.

Guaranteed Issue. A requirement that health plans must permit you to enroll regardless of your health status, age, gender, or other factors that might predict your use of health services. All health plans sold to small employers with 2 to 50 employees in Indiana are guaranteed issue. Plans that are guaranteed issue can turn you away for other reasons.

Guaranteed Renewability. A feature in health plans that means your coverage cannot be canceled because you get sick. HIPAA requires all health plans to be guaranteed renewable. Your coverage can be canceled for other reasons unrelated to your health status.

Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). The Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) is a program that can help pay for nearly two-thirds of eligible individuals’ health plan premiums. In general, in order to be eligible for the tax credit, you must be 1) receiving Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits or 2) will receive TRA benefits once your unemployment benefits are exhausted or 3) receiving benefits under the Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) program or 4) aged 55 or older and receiving benefits from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

Health Insurance or Health Plan. In this guide, the term means benefits consisting of medical care (provided directly or through insurance or reimbursement) under any hospital or medical service policy, plan contract, or HMO contract offered by a health insurance company or a group health plan. It does not mean coverage that is limited to accident or disability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, liability insurance (including automobile insurance) for medical expenses, or coverage for on-site medical clinics. Health insurance also does not mean coverage for limited dental or vision benefits to the extent these are provided under a separate policy.

Health Plan Year. That calendar period during which your health plan coverage is in effect. Many group health plan years begin on January 1, while others begin in a different month.

Health Status. When used in this guide, refers to your medical condition (both physical and mental illnesses), claims experience, receipt of health care, medical history, genetic information, evidence of insurability (including conditions arising out of acts of domestic violence), and disability. See also Genetic Information.

HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996 to help people buy and keep health insurance, even when they have serious health conditions, the law sets a national floor for health insurance reforms. Since states can and have modified and expanded upon these provisions, consumers’ protections vary from state to state.

HIPAA Eligible. Status you attain once you have had 18 months of continuous creditable health coverage. Under federal law, to be HIPAA eligible you also must have used up any COBRA or state continuation coverage; you must not be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid; you must not have other health insurance; and you must apply for individual health insurance within 63 days of losing your prior creditable coverage. No matter where you live in the U.S., if you are HIPAA eligible you must be offered at least some type of individual health insurance with no pre-existing condition periods. In Indiana, you must be offered coverage through ICHIA. See also ICHIA, COBRA, Continuous Coverage, Creditable Coverage.

Hoosier Healthwise. Indiana’s Medicaid program that provides managed care coverage for some low-income children, families, and pregnant women who have limited or no health insurance.

ICHIA. Indiana Comprehensive Health Insurance Association, the state-run insurance program for HIPAA eligible persons and for people with high health risks (called a high risk pool).

Individual Health Insurance Policy. Policies for people not connected to an employer group. This term also refers to coverage purchased by self-employed persons who have no other employees. Individual health insurance policies are regulated by Indiana.

Large Group Health Plan. A health plan covering employees and their dependents in which the employer employs more than 50 employees.

Late Enrollment. Enrollment in a health plan at a time other than the regular or a special enrollment period. If you are a late enrollee, you may be subject to a longer pre-existing condition exclusion period. See also Special Enrollment Period.

Look Back. The maximum length of time, immediately prior to enrolling in a health plan, that can be examined for evidence of pre-existing conditions. See also Pre-existing Condition.

Managed Care Plan. A kind of health insurance plan. Like an HMO, managed care plans can limit coverage to health care provided by doctors or hospitals who work for or contract with them — also called “network” providers, and therefore may limit enrollment to those people who live within a particular coverage area. Managed care plans may require you to get permission (a “referral”) from your family doctor before you get care from a specialist in their network. Some managed care plans will cover your care at a lower rate if you go to a non-network provider or if you get specialty care without a referral. See also HMO.

Medicaid. A program providing comprehensive health insurance coverage and other assistance to certain low-income Indiana residents. The Medicaid program offered to pregnant women, children, and families with children is called Hoosier Healthwise. All other states have Medicaid programs, too, though eligibility levels and covered benefits will vary.

Nondiscrimination. A requirement that group health plans not discriminate against you based on your health status. Your coverage under a group health plan cannot be denied or restricted, nor can you be charged a higher premium, because of your health status. Group health plans can restrict your coverage based on other factors (such as part time employment) that are unrelated to health status. See also Group Health Plan and Health Status.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). PBGC is a federal government corporation established by Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to encourage the continuation and maintenance of defined benefit pension plans, provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits to participants and beneficiaries in plans covered by PBGC. It currently guarantees payment of basic pension benefits earned by American workers and retirees participating in private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The agency receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed largely by insurance premiums paid by companies that sponsor pension plans and by PBGC’s investment returns.

Pre-existing Condition (Group Health Plan). Any condition (either physical or mental) for which medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received within the 6-month period immediately preceding enrollment in a health plan. Pregnancy cannot be counted as a pre-existing condition. Genetic information about your likelihood of developing a disease or condition, without a diagnosis of that disease or condition, cannot be considered a pre-existing condition. Newborns, newly adopted children, and children placed for adoption covered within 30 days cannot be subject to pre-existing condition exclusions.

Pre-existing Condition (ICHIA). Any condition for which medical advice, diagnosis, care or treatment was recommended or received within the 3-month period immediately preceding enrollment in a health plan Pregnancy can be counted as a pre-existing condition by ICHIA. See also Prudent Person Rule.

Pre-existing Condition (Individual Health Insurance). Any condition for which medical advice, diagnosis, care or treatment was recommended or received within the 12 month period preceding enrollment in a health plan, or for which an ordinarily prudent person would have sought medical advice, care or treatment. In Indiana, under individual health insurance policies, pregnancy can be counted as a pre-existing condition. Genetic information can not trigger a pre-existing condition exclusion in individual health insurance policies. See also Prudent Person Rule.

Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Period. The time during which a health plan will not pay for covered care relating to a pre-existing condition. See also Pre-existing Condition.

Prudent Person Rule. In individual health insurance only, a rule that permits insurers to exclude as pre-existing any condition for which – in the insurer’s judgment – most people would have sought care or treatment prior to enrolling in an individual health insurance policy.

Self-Insured Group Health Plans. Plans set up by employers who set aside funds to pay their employees’ health claims. Because employers often hire insurance companies to run these plans, they may look to you just like fully insured plans. Employers must disclose in your benefits information whether an insurer is responsible for funding, or for only administering the plan. If the insurer is only administering the plan, it is self-insured. Self-insured plans are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor, not by Indiana.

Small Group Health Plan. A health plan covering employees and their dependents in which the employer employ at least 2 employers but not more than 50 employees.

Special Enrollment Period. A time, triggered by certain specific events, during which you and your dependents must be permitted to sign up for coverage under a group health plan. Employers and group health insurers must make such a period available to employees and their dependents when their family status changes or when their health insurance status changes. Special enrollment periods must last at least 30 or 60 days, depending on the qualifying event. Enrollment in a health plan during a special enrollment period is not considered late enrollment. See also Late Enrollment.

State Continuation Coverage. A program similar to COBRA for small employers with fewer than 20 employees. Indiana does not require state continuation coverage, but some other states do. See also COBRA.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A program providing cash benefits to certain very low income disabled and elderly individuals. When you qualify for SSI, you generally also qualify for Medicaid. In addition, Medicaid coverage often continues for a limited time if your income increases so that you no longer qualify for SSI.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). A program that provides cash benefits to low income families with children. When you qualify for TANF, you generally also qualify for Medicaid. In addition, Medicaid coverage often continues for a limited time if you no longer qualify for TANF. See also Medicaid.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program. A program authorized by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 2002. This program provides aid to workers who lose their job or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. The TAA Program offers six benefits and reemployment services to assist unemployed workers prepare for and obtain new suitable employment. In addition, TAA offers a significant tax credit that covers 80% of health insurance premiums for certain plans.

U.S. Department of Labor. A department of the federal government that regulates employer provided health benefit plans. You may need to contact the Department of Labor if you are in a self-insured group health plan, or if you have questions about COBRA or the Family and Medical Leave Act. See also COBRA, Family and Medical Leave Act.

Waiting Period. The time you may be required to work for an employer before you are eligible for health benefits. Not all employers require waiting periods. Waiting periods do not count as gaps in health insurance for purposes of determining whether coverage is continuous. If your employer requires a waiting period, your pre-existing condition exclusion period begins on the first day of the waiting period. See also Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Period.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button