Ever in a situation where you are between jobs and need coverage for a short time period while you are in the waiting period for your new plan? You get this very friendly letter offering to keep you on your prior coverage, but then the hammer falls…you see this outrageous premium to be paid. You can’t afford this, but also hate being without coverage for even a short period knowing the risk. Here is a helpful idea you can use to have your cake and eat it too.
If you read the letter closely, you see that you have 60 days to elect coverage. If you read it very closely you see you have an additional 45 days to make the first premium payment. Consider that by law your new hire waiting period can not exceed 90 days, and we might be on to something here.
When you receive the letter, calculate how many days you have to elect the coverage and still be timely, then compare that to the date you start coverage on your new plan. If this exceeds 60 days, go ahead and send the COBRA letter in and state you are taking the coverage, but make no payment. Keep the payment coupon in hand, and assuming you have no really large claims (pay your prescriptions out of pocket during the time period if need be unless they are overly expensive), destroy it after you enroll in the new plan.
It is kind of like having free insurance during this time period. Most people pay their COBRA during this period for peace of mind and you still get that. The premium can easily be paid and coverage reinstated if you do in fact need it, but most don’t.
Author: Ernie Sweat is one of the foremost experts on health insurance matters and consumer advocacy. He has spoken around the country and been published in articles nationally with requests of his expertise. Keep an eye on this site as he will constantly add new material to help Americans navigate the very complicated health system.