Can I cancel my health insurance, and will there be a penalty or adverse consequence?

Generally, there is no prohibition against insured or plan members canceling their health insurance coverage or their participation in a health service plan. Of course, you might be legally obligated to maintain your health insurance policy as part of an medical support order from a child support or divorce case, but without such an order, you can cancel your insurance at any plan.

One major exception to this generality is in the case of Medicare assignments. If a Medicare recipient has chosen to obtain private insurance or HMO coverage involving an assignment of the Medicare benefits to the insurer or plan, the Medicare recipient must apply to the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) before changing insurers or plans. Otherwise, there is no financial penalty per se to canceling health insurance coverage.

If you cancel the policy, you may not get your entire premium back. You generally get back your “unused premiums.” Cancellation is not retroactive, and you’ve got to pay for the insurance you got before you canceled.