The insurer I enrolled with (Florida Blue) on 12/2 told me that I just have to pay them my premium by 12/31 either by mailing a check to them or by entering my checking account information over the phone through a secure automated system, so I think you are wrong about not being able to start on January 1st. I believe that your coverage can start on Jan 1 as long as you sign up by 12/23 and make your payment by 1/1. I also read in my research that you have a 90 day grace period to pay premiums. Of course, that may not apply to your first premium if you want to be able to start using your insurance right away. However, at least once your plan is effective, you have 90 days to pay each premium. That wouldn't be a good idea to do continuously, but I think the idea is to prevent people from being cancelled just because they pay their premium late. From what I read, the insurance company must pay any claims for the first 30 days after the premium due date even if you haven't paid that premium, but they don't have to pay any claims after 30 days unless you do pay your premium between 31-90 days after it was due.
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