I would like to avoid paying for Cobra insurance for a month between jobs if I do not use the insurance. It would not be a lapse in coverage for preexisting condition purposes.

Basically for the month of August, I do not have health coverage from my prior employer or my new employer. New coverage starts Sept 1st. Cobra coverage will handle the interim on my old employers policy. Premium payment is required during the first 45 days after an election is made or the coverage is cancelled retroactively. If someone in my family breaks a few bones or has some other expensive medical problem, I will most likely pay the premiums, but if the insurance is unused, I want to avoid shelling out the $1400 bucks. This is in the United states.

Is there any negative legal or financial consequence of not paying? Is this fraudulent? Perhaps it is slightly unethical, but I can live with that.

  • I know this is commonly done, but I have no references.
    – Alex B
    Aug 8, 2014 at 5:11
  • What is the date you are required to make the election, or you will have a gap in coverage? Aug 8, 2014 at 9:58
  • @mhoran_psprep Cobra allows 60 days to make an election. I will have new health insurance before the 60 day deadline is close. Not worried about a coverage gap.
    – zerpsed
    Aug 8, 2014 at 12:29
  • @Alex B thanks, seems likely to be commonly done, this is good to hear.
    – zerpsed
    Aug 8, 2014 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


Based on the info provided in the comments in the question the following timeline seems to apply:

  • Quit old job in July.
  • Lose health coverage from employer on July 30th
  • New employee coverage starts September 1st.
  • Need to decide about COBRA in September.

Because COBRA is retroactive, it takes weeks to get the forms to you and they give you time to decide, you will be able to wait until August 31st before signing up.

If you wake up on September 1st without having had an major medical expenses, then don't submit the application. If you did have medical expenses that would cost more than the coverage submit the paperwork, and pay the premium.

Just make sure you understand the rules fro the medical coverage regarding doctors, hospitals, and the like. Keep in mind that 30 days is long enough that prescriptions have to be managed before the employer provided insurance ends. Somebody with a gap of a weekend has less to worry about.

  • Shouldn't bullet 4 be COBRA in August?
    – Alex B
    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:14
  • 1
    Comment in question implied 60 days to decide. July plus 60 days equals September Aug 16, 2014 at 13:50
  • @AlexB: I think what you're looking for is "Need to decide in September about COBRA in August"
    – Ben Voigt
    Feb 21, 2019 at 4:23

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