Last Updated on February 9, 2018 by Dave Farquhar
Is there a health insurance grace period between jobs? Yes there is. Actually, there are, in effect, two of them. That’s actually good news to you as a job seeker.
The COBRA health insurance grace period between jobs
After you leave one job and take another one, you have 30 days to decide whether you’re going to buy COBRA. If you end up not needing it, you have the choice to not buy it.
This is the reason why your COBRA paperwork usually takes a while to show up. Your former employer may be dragging its feet, but it won’t actually hurt you.
I have written about COBRA in greater depth before. COBRA can be a source of a tremendous amount of stress, and it doesn’t need to be.
The Affordable Care Act health insurance grace period between jobs
There are a tremendous number of misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Many people are worried about the tax penalties of not having coverage.
While there isn’t an explicit grace period in the ACA, you can go without coverage for a period of two months without a tax penalty. That protects you in the worst-case scenario, where bad timing can cause a gap of nearly two months. Or, in the more common scenario of a gap of about a month, it means you can change jobs twice in a year, forego COBRA, and still be OK.
If you change jobs more than twice in a year, which can happen–I had a year like that once–either get COBRA the third time or sign up for a plan in one of the health exchanges to avoid the tax penalty. You can use one of the cheap bronze plans to save money, as a bronze plan will almost certainly be cheaper than COBRA.
It’s also possible that the tax penalty will be lower than the cost of a bronze plan for a month or two. Contact a tax professional for advice in that case.
I’ve talked about that and other slightly unconventional options for health coverage in between jobs that you might consider as well. It is possible to make health care a bit more affordable during those times you employer isn’t subsidizing it, without neglecting yourself. There’s no point in having a health insurance grace period between jobs if you’re too scared to use it.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.
2 thoughts on “Health insurance grace period between jobs”
How many insurance companies have pulled out of your state and how is that effecting you?
It’s not affecting me and doesn’t seem to be affecting my neighbors. We had six options last year when I was using it, and I just checked and we still have six. Of the companies who are pulling out of states, I don’t think they were ever here to begin with. And based on past experience with two of them, I wouldn’t buy from them anyway.
I’m not using the exchange this year since my current employer provides good coverage. But the exchange plans are better than some employer-provided plans, both in terms of cost and what they cover. I’ve paid silver-plan prices for bronze-plan coverage under past employers, at times.
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