COBRA Subsidy For Many Ends Today, Laid-Off Workers Face Bigger Bills
As part of February's economic stimulus package, the federal government began subsidizing insurance premiums for millions of recently unemployed workers such as Paul and Kate Carroll, whose story is highlighted in the Sacramento Bee. But for many people, the subsidies end Monday, leaving the laid-off workers to pay the full cost of insurance plans offered by their former employers if they wish to keep the coverage, the Bee reports.
The $25 billion subsidy program covers 65 percent of premiums for people who had become unemployed since September 2008 but retained employer-sponsored coverage through COBRA. The subsidies last nine months. COBRA coverage averages $1,069 a month, according to Families USA. Without subsidies, that may be out of reach for many unemployed people. "It's unclear when or whether Congress will address the subsidy expiration with specific legislation or as part of a major jobs bill. ... some Senate Democrats want not only to extend the subsidy to 15 months and push the expiration date to next June, but also want to boost it to 75 percent. A similar measure was introduced in the House" (Calvan and Tong, 11/29).