Federal Money For COBRA Has Helped Many But May Soon End
Keeping health care after being laid off from a job is a serious concern for many people. COBRA is a health insurance program that allows people to temporarily continue their coverage, although the worker must pick up the cost of the plan. "That price, however, is one that all but a fraction of laid-off workers find much too high. The federal stimulus bill has helped some workers by lowering those payments, but that help may soon run out," NPR/KQED reports.
The federal government decided to "cover two-thirds of the cost for nine months, through a new program approved by Congress in February as part of the stimulus bill. ... The subsidy appears to be having the effect Congress and the Obama administration wanted. No one really knows yet how many people have actually signed up for COBRA. One survey of large companies found that the percentage of eligible laid-off workers who continued their employer health insurance doubled from 19 percent to 38 percent after the subsidy kicked in."
The broadcast explored why the government help has not made the program more popular. It finds costs are still too high for many people. "Even with the federal subsidy, a parent earning minimum wage would still need to pay about a third of her monthly income to afford family coverage" (Varney, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.