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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.

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Insurance while changing jobs

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posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date.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: My job and benefits expire December 31 and I do not know how long it will be until I am covered under a new employer's plan. How long do I have to switch to COBRA?

A: If you are eligible for COBRA, then you have at least until January 31 to pay your own premium to the employer to keep health benefits for January. But keep in mind that very few people actually need or want COBRA coverage. For about 96% of employees who leave a group health plan, a better option can be found outside of COBRA that offers better coverage at a lower price. Check the listing of short term medical insurance plans at Most of these policies cost less than a third of COBRA and can be issues on the same day. If you do not have significant ongoing medical problems, this can add up to a significant cost savings. Most importantly, all short term medical insurance policies offer a "Certificate or Creditable Coverage" that lets you jump onto your next employer's health plan without a new waiting period. See the article "Surviving a Layoff" for other helpful tips.


More resources:

Six Ways to Get More From Short Term Medical Insurance Short Term Health Insurance Surviving a Layoff Am I Eligible For Short Term Health Insurance? How Long Can I Be Covered By Short Term Health Insurance?