How common is it that a company has a probation period of 90 days before an employee can enroll in health benefits? I will be working for a startup.

Is this a generally accepted principle depending on the state or is this a red flag?

  • It will depend on location (I'm guessing you're in the United States for example) and the type of position. In the states I'm aware of, 90 days is the longest waiting period a carrier will allow and so it's on the cheap end of things for an employer to pick that. Whether that sort of cheapness is a "red flag" depends on what you're trying to discover. And life is generally different if you are a minimum-wage employee where waiting periods are more common or whether you are a highly compensated executive where they are not. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 1:37
  • A startup in the United States? Or some other country? Norms differ. I'll guess that you are a developer. What signal are you trying to uncover? It's not uncommon that a startup would be watching every dollar by trying to do health insurance as cheaply as possible because it's being funded by the founder's credit cards. It's possibly a different story if it's a startup with several rounds of funding that seems to be spending a lot on other items. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


In larger companies (200+ employees) in the US or Canada, this is usually a sign of a poorly run company. If it's less than 30, this might be acceptable. Keep in mind, if it's that small a company, it may have certain other "quirks" and exceptions to normal expectations of employment law in place as well. In the US, for example, companies with fewer than 50 employees aren't required to offer maternity leave at all, etc.

Only go this route if:

  1. You really want this job specifically.
  2. You are already enrolled in a private health/dental insurance program.

As for startups? Well, I've interviewed with 20 man operations that had (minimal) health care benefits kick in on day 1.

  • This company has 8 people, I would be the 9th.
    – TheM00s3
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 2:08
  • @TheM00s3 What are your impressions of the company? Is it just another job, or a potential career for you? Why are you signing on with a startup? Is it for fun, because you're passionate about building something from the ground up, massive risk but massive potential payoff, etc?
    – Cloud
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 3:06
  • 1
    They are pioneering technology that I believe will become more mainstream in a few years. I get an opportunity to work on a new language that I have always wanted to learn, their CTO is an expert on it who is fully willing to train me and get me off the ground, its something they do with each new hire since they understand its a language with a learning curve and want all of their engineers up to a certain standard. This will also be my first time leading a data science team as well, something I've never had a chance to do.
    – TheM00s3
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 3:09
  • 1
    to fully answer your question, I felt the company is run by very smart and competent people. This is a company that is very excited to bring me onboard.
    – TheM00s3
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 3:24
  • 2
    If you are currently employed, then you can continue your current insurance for the time period using COBRA, but under Obamacare, It is possible you could get a private policy cheaper than the COBRA one, so shop around a bit. If you are under a certain age, you might even be able to get on your parent's policy or your spouse's if you are married. And yes an accident can cost thousands,. I broke my collarbone and had to have surgery on it when I was uninsured about 17 years ago and it cost me 11,000 in cash up front. I would guess it would likely be more than twice that now.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 14:40

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