COBRA Rolls Double As Subsidy Makes Coverage More Affordable To Laid-Off Workers
"A federal subsidy designed to make health insurance more affordable for laid-off workers has led to a doubling in the number of people who have opted to continue their former employer's coverage," USA Today reports. The subsidy, created by the federal stimulus package, covers 65 percent of COBRA premiums for workers who were laid off between Sept. 1, 2008 and the end of this year. A new analysis by the consulting firm Hewitt Associates found that enrollment in the program has doubled from 19 percent of eligible workers in the months leading to the February passage of the stimulus legislation to 38 percent between March and June.
USA Today adds: "Some employers have raised concerns that higher COBRA enrollments will increase their health care costs. Individuals who sign up for COBRA tend to file more claims than other workers, according to Edward Kaplan, national health practice leader at Segal, a human resources consulting firm, because they want to get as much medical treatment as possible before their coverage expires" (Block, 8/17).