Medical articles today

/* 728x15, */

Newly Unemployed In March Face COBRA Assistance Cut-off Unless U.S. Senate Follows House Lead To Restore Subsidy

/* 468x60, */

Workers who lose their jobs after February 28 are likely to find that the cost of continued health coverage is unaffordable because they will not qualify for help under a special federal assistance program, which pays 65 percent of health coverage premiums under COBRA for laid-off workers, unless Congress acts to extend the eligibility deadline.
In response to that looming deadline, Families USA sent a letter today to Senators urging them to follow the lead of the House of Representatives and extend the subsidy. The Senate is scheduled to act on a jobs bill that could include an extension of the subsidy.
The COBRA subsidy was adopted last year as part of the federal stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Although COBRA allows workers to retain health insurance from their previous employer, it requires workers to pay the full cost of that coverage without any contribution from that former employer.
A Families USA report released in December 2009 shows that, without the subsidy, COBRA premiums for family coverage consume, on average, 83.4 percent of unemployment benefits - and actually exceed monthly unemployment benefits in nine states. The nationwide average monthly COBRA premium for family coverage is $1,111, compared to an average monthly unemployment insurance benefit of $1,333.
The federal premium assistance makes it possible for millions of Americans to retain their health coverage, Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, told Senators. "With assistance, unemployed families pay, on average, $389 per month for COBRA premiums," Pollack wrote. "Without assistance, they would have to pay $1,111 per month, which is out of reach for most families who have lost their jobs.
"Many of these families have no options for health coverage other than COBRA until health reform passes and is fully implemented," Pollack wrote. Pollack therefore urged Senators "to take swift action to extend the COBRA subsidy to workers who are laid off this year, as proposed in the President's budget and the House jobs bill."
The fact that the economy is recovering does not diminish the need for the subsidy, Pollack argued.
"Although the number of people who are losing jobs is on the decline, in January, 3 million more Americans became unemployed. Further, the number of people who remain unemployed for long periods of time is much greater than at any other time in the last 10 years," he said.
As of January 2010, 6.3 million people had been unemployed for six months or longer, more than five times the number of people who faced long-term unemployment three years ago. "When people face long periods of unemployment, it is particularly difficult for them to set aside money for COBRA premiums," he said.
It is very important that the Senate acts as quickly as possible, Pollack said, because any delay in extending the subsidy can hinder outreach and enrollment.
"It is always a challenge to make sure consumers know about available benefits, and it is even more difficult if the benefit is allowed to expire before being renewed," he said. "Unless there is a prompt extension, laid-off workers are likely to think the subsidy has ended and, without it, will become uninsured.
"We need to be able to send such workers the simple message that, if they have lost their jobs and do not have other group coverage, they are eligible for COBRA premium assistance," Pollack said.
COBRA takes its name from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, which allows workers to continue their employer's health coverage after leaving employment.
A copy of the letter to Senators is below.
February 15, 2010
Dear Senator:
I write to urge you to take swift action to extend the COBRA subsidy to workers who are laid off this year, as proposed in the President's budget and the House jobs bill. Thanks to emergency legislation passed by Congress, people who are laid off on or before February 28, 2010, now get up to 15 months of help paying their COBRA premiums. Unless Congress acts quickly, however, people who are laid off after that date will not receive any help with COBRA.
Without federal help, COBRA premiums are simply unaffordable for most unemployed people. A December 2009 report by Families USA showed that, on average, COBRA premiums for family coverage would consume 83.4 percent of unemployment benefits-and would actually exceed monthly unemployment benefits in nine states. The federal premium assistance that you enacted under ARRA pays 65 percent of COBRA premiums, making it possible for millions of Americans to retain their coverage. With assistance, unemployed families pay, on average, $389 per month for COBRA premiums. Without assistance, they would have to pay $1,111 per month, which is out of reach for most families who have lost their jobs.
Many of these families have no options for health coverage other than COBRA until health reform passes and is fully implemented. This is for two reasons. First, in most states, no individual insurer has to sell them policies until they have exhausted available COBRA benefits. Many laid-off workers cannot get an offer of coverage at all in the individual market due to their health. Second, those who get offers may find that the coverage excludes treatment for any pre-existing conditions.
Although the economy is slowly recovering, laid-off workers will continue to need assistance throughout the year. Although the number of people who are losing jobs is on the decline, in January, 3 million more Americans became unemployed. Further, the number of people who remain unemployed for long periods of time is much greater than at any other time in the last 10 years. As of January 2010, 6.3 million people had been unemployed for six months or longer, more than five times the number of people who faced long-term unemployment three years ago. When people face long periods of unemployment, it is particularly difficult for them to set aside money for COBRA premiums.
We urge you to act quickly to extend eligibility for COBRA premium assistance and to extend that assistance for as long as possible. Delaying this extension not only deprives newly jobless Americans of much-needed help, it also creates unnecessary barriers to outreach and enrollment to those who are eligible for assistance. It is always a challenge to make sure consumers know about available benefits, and it is even more difficult if the benefit is allowed to expire before being renewed. Unless there is a prompt extension, laid-off workers are likely to think the subsidy has ended and, without it, to become uninsured. We need to be able to send such workers the simple message that, if they have lost their jobs and do not have other group coverage, they are eligible for COBRA premium assistance.
Thank you for all you are doing to protect jobless families during this difficult time.
Sincerely,
Ron Pollack
Executive Director
Families USA
Source
Families USA
/* 468x60, */

Keywords:

cobra, cobra premiums, cobra premium, cobra subsidy, cobra assistance, face cobra, subsidy cobra, money cobra, coverage cobra, extend cobra
/* 160x600, */
Medical articles today © Padayatra Dmitriy
Designer Dimitrov Dmytriy