Qualified beneficiaries can waive their rights to COBRA coverage two ways.
One is a waiver by default, where the qualified beneficiary takes no action during the 60-day election period. The waiver of COBRA rights due to the failure to elect coverage in a timely manner is irrevocable. There are some exceptions, like when the administrator does not inform a disabled participant about their COBRA entitlement or notify them of divorce procedures.
The second way you can waive your COBRA is to send in the forms refuting your rights during the 60 day election period.
COBRA does not define what is a valid waiver.
After explicitly waiving COBRA coverage during the election period, can a qualified beneficiary change his mind?. A qualified beneficiary who waives COBRA continuation coverage may revoke the waiver at any time during the 60 day election period. A revocation of a waiver is effective on the date it is sent (postmarked or hand delivered) to the employer or plan administrator.
What are the drawbacks of waiving COBRA?
The decision to waive COBRA coverage may have serious consequences for the person who later changes his mind. According to COBRA regulations, if a person who waives COBRA subsequently revokes the waiver and elects coverage before the end of the election period, the employer may restore coverage retroactively to the date of the revocation, rather than to the date on which coverage was lost. In such a case, the qualified beneficiary would experience a lapse in coverage.
Does the administrator have to provide a COBRA waiver form? COBRA does not require a COBRA waiver form to be sent (aside form the COBRA notice). But if the plan rules specify you can restore coverage retroactively to the waiver revocation date (rather than to the loss of coverage date), it is possible by providing a waiver form to qualified beneficiaries. The waiver form should explains the qualified beneficiary's rights, the consequences of waiver and revoking a waiver.
If your company's plan rules specify restoring coverage retroactively to the loss of coverage date, the qualified beneficiary who revokes his waiver would not experience a lapse in coverage. Then it may not be necessary to provide a waiver form because the real waiver of COBRA rights occurs when the qualified beneficiary fails to elect coverage during the 60 day election time.
If I decide to waive COBRA coverage during the initial election period and then change my mind, can I do so? As long as you revoke the waiver of coverage before the end of the election period. If the election period has passed then unfortunately you cannot revoke your waiver.
For example, if you elected to revoke your waiver of COBRA coverage on March 1st, then had a heart attack on March 2nd, your health plan may not cover you, because they are only obligated to cover you after the date of your waiver.