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Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides support for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
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At our National Cancer Information Center trained Cancer Information Specialists can answer questions 24 hours a day, every day of the year to empower you with accurate, up-to-date information to help you make educated health decisions. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with valuable services and resources.
Or ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Financial and Insurance Matters
Disclaimer: The American Cancer Society does not offer legal advice. This information is intended to provide general background in this area of the law.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a law that was created to protect millions of working Americans and their family members with medical problems. These people often had trouble getting health insurance because of a medical problem they had before they tried to buy health insurance (called a pre-existing condition). In fact, before the important protections of the health care law known as the Affordable Care Act took effect, many people with serious health problems couldn’t get health insurance.
Here's how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps to get coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The following information applies to grandfathered plans that existed before September 23, 2010 and were not purchased through the Marketplace. Check with your employer to find out your health care plan’s start date, to learn if it’s grandfathered. If it isn’t, this section does not apply to you.
HIPAA includes several parts that may help people with cancer who are under older grandfathered individual health plans.
In 2002, the HIPAA laws were expanded to give patients greater access to their own medical records. The expanded law also gave patients more control over how their personally identifiable health information is used. In general, health information may not be shared without the patient's written permission. The law requires health care providers and health insurance plans to protect the privacy of patient health information, too. Medical records must be kept under lock and key and are available only on a need-to-know basis.
Even though HIPAA offers protections and makes it easier to switch jobs without fear of losing health coverage for a pre-existing condition, the law has limits. For instance, HIPAA:
Even so, HIPAA has generally made it much easier to switch health plans or change jobs without losing coverage if you have a health problem.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Keeping the health plan you have: The Affordable Care Act and grandfathered health plans. Accessed at https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/keeping-the-health-plan-you-have-grandfathered.html on May 13, 2019.
HealthCare.gov. Grandfathered health insurance plans. Accessed at https://www.healthcare.gov/health-care-law-protections/grandfathered-plans/ on May 13, 2019.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Health information privacy. Accessed at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html on May 13, 2019.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Summary of the HIPAA security rule. Accessed at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/security/laws-regulations/index.html on May 13, 2019.
Last Revised: May 13, 2019
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