Questions Continue To Linger on Eligibility for New COBRA Subsidies
Employers and recently laid-off workers are reporting confusion about the details of recent extensions to eligibility and federal subsidies for COBRA coverage that initially were passed as part of the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, Kaiser Health News/NPR's "Morning Edition" reports.
Stimulus Package Subsidies, Extensions
Under the stimulus package, workers laid off between September 2008 and December 2009 were able to receive a nine-month COBRA subsidy that covered 65% of premium costs.
In December, Congress expanded the program's eligibility to workers laid off through February 2010 and extended the subsidy period from nine months to 15 months.
In early March, Congress again expanded eligibility to workers laid off through the end of March 2010.
In addition, a current jobs bill proposal could expand eligibility to all workers who are laid off through the end of this year.
Number of Beneficiaries Remains Unclear
Currently, it remains unclear how many U.S. residents have participated in the subsidy extension.
According to an early estimate from the congressional Joint Committee onÂ Taxation, aboutÂ seven million people could take advantage of the COBRA subsidy at a cost of almost $25 billion.The consulting firm Hewitt Associates also has released a survey suggesting that the number of laid-off workers that have taken the subsidy has doubled from 19% to 38% since the extension began (Gold, Kaiser Health News/NPR's "Morning Edition," 3/17). 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.