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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

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COBRA coverage eligibility

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: If I go to work for a large company that has group insurance and offers it to the employee from day 1 and I were to quit on day 3 for instance, would I qualify for Cobra coverage? If I read the law correctly, I think that I would be covered. Also, when I sign up for a group plan that is effective on day 1, should I wait till day 2 to cancel my individual health insurance or when exactly should I cancel it? I want to make sure I'm sticking to the "continuous coverage" rules.

A: Yes, employer-provided group health insurance almost always starts on the 1st day of the month of legibility and always continues until the last day of the month, even if you are no longer an employee of the group. Be cautious that some employers take a "short cut" by not paying the bill until about the 10th of the month and elimination employees who have previously terminated in order to save money. This is not legal and can be reversed in the long run but will create a hassle for you in the short term if you have a claim during the period that the insurance company says you were not enrolled. Eligibility for COBRA coverage is also determined by other factors not related to the dates of employment and insurance coverage. For more information on other COBRA eligibility requirements, see The conventional advice is that you should not cancel other individual insurance but rather let it expire for non-payment which would be at least 30 days after your paid coverage ends.


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