Analysis Sees Major Hike in COBRA Costs After Stimulus Help Expires
With some COBRA subsidies expiring yesterday, some unemployed workers could end up spending more than 83% of their unemployment benefits on health insurance, according to an analysis conducted by Families USA, the Los Angeles Times reports (Kristof, Los Angeles Times, 11/30).
As part of the economic stimulus package, Congress approved giving laid-off workers nine months of subsidies that would cover 65% of their insurance premiums through COBRA. COBRA typically allows laid-off workers to retain their insurance coverage by paying the full cost of the premium plus an administrative fee (American Health Line, 11/23).
The first round of subsidies expired Nov. 30, and as of Dec. 1, newly unemployed individuals will not be eligible for subsidies (Los Angeles Times, 11/30).
There are fluctuations in COBRA premiums across states, but the cost is higher than the average unemployment check in nine states, according to Families USA's research (Seelye, "Prescriptions," New York Times, 11/30).
Ron Pollack, Families USA's executive director, said, "Anybody who loses his or her job is also likely to lose health coverage" (Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/1).
Lawmakers Talk About ExtensionsLegislators are considering bills to extend and expand the subsidies, though so far no legislation has been approved by any major committees, and no amendments prolonging the subsidies have been added to fast-moving legislation that would allow the subsidies to continue without a break (Los Angeles Times, 11/30). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.