Employers decide when health insurance benefits begin for new employees. Some jobs may start benefits immediately. Others may not kick in health coverage for a month or two.

Section 2708 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, which was part of the Affordable Care Act, lets a group health plan or health insurance issuer apply a waiting period of up to, but not to exceed, 90 days before coverage kicks in. 

So, newly eligible employees should get health benefits coverage within the first three months of eligibility. All calendar days are counted, including holidays and weekends. Your health insurance plan can kick in earlier than 90 days, just not later.

For instance, if your employer wants to use the first day of the month or the first day of your payroll period as the enrollment date, it could apply a shorter waiting period before providing health insurance coverage.

Since the waiting period time will be 90 days or less, you’ll need to ask your benefits administrator at work to tell you the start date.

That said, most employers make new employees eligible for health insurance coverage when they begin their jobs, as long as they make the company’s eligibility requirements. For instance, companies often provide health benefits to full-time employees when they’re hired but may wait longer for part-time employees or not offer them health coverage.

Once you become eligible, you can sign up for health insurance during a special enrollment period with the company. Your employer will likely offer you multiple health insurance plans from which to choose.

If you don’t sign up for health coverage when you first become eligible, you’ll have to wait until the employer’s annual open enrollment period.

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