Obamacare: how long to wait to join employer plan

I just got a new job, and was very excited to get health insurance for the first time in over a year.  When I went to sign the forms, I found out that I have to work here for six months before I can get onto the plan.  That seems like a long time.  I offered to pay the full rate to get on earlier, but they said no.  Is there anything I can do?

Working But Still Uninsured

Dear Working But Still Uninsured,

The short answer: no, there’s nothing you can do in 2013.  In 2014, health reform requires all employer plans to enroll employees after 90 days (if not sooner).  Until then, you will have to work the six months and then enroll.

The reason they could not enroll you and have you pay the fare is likely in their contract with the insurer.  The insurer has agreed to cover the people who have certain characteristics.  In this case, the characteristic is being employed by the company for six months.  The insurer does not want to cover people who join by paying the whole rate; these people have strong motivation to get insurance, probably because they have medical bills.

Since you have not had a plan for more than a year, your new plan may not cover your current medical conditions for up to a year.  This will also change in 2014.  When your plan renews in 2014, it will have to cover all of your health problems no matter when they started.

Look on the bright side: you will have health insurance after the months pass.  Lots of people would trade you!

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.