Posts Tagged - ‘cobra subsidy’

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Your Health Coverage Can Be Canceled for One Penny

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Image: stevendepolo under CC 3.0

In order for your coverage to remain secure, it is essential to pay every single penny of your health insurance premium–literally.

A woman with cancer lost her job, but got COBRA to continue her group health insurance benefits. Last year’s stimulus package gave her a 35% subsidy to help cover the cost. However, her insurance company never sent her the reduced bill.

Therefore, she calculated the smaller amount herself and sent in the premium. Unfortunately, the insurer’s calculations didn’t agree: they said her payment should be one cent higher. As a result, they canceled her plan entirely for nonpayment! She was unable to send a check for $0.01 because she was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy at the time.

The good news is that they eventually overturned their decision and reinstated her coverage.

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COBRA Subsidy Extension Fails; Get Short Term Health Insurance

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Image: Napalm filled tires under CC 3.0

A divided Congress failed to pass a bill that would have extended the COBRA health insurance subsidy for jobless workers. COBRA allows ex-employees to continue on their old employer’s health coverage, but it forces them to cover the entire premium–which they are often unable to afford. As part of the 2009 stimulus package, President Obama included a subsidy of up to 65% of the cost of COBRA coverage for those laid off during the recession.

Unfortunately, millions are still unemployed. The subsidies are steadily expiring, but budget concerns have made moderate Democrats (with an eye on winning re-election in November) leery of passing yet another big spending bill. President Obama has begged them to renew the subsidy, but to no avail. As a result, many will let their coverage expire and become uninsured.

However, there is a solution. Short term health insurance coverage can be kept only as long as you need it, until you find another job with health benefits. Most options are typically less generous than a previous employer’s insurance may have been, but that means that it will be more affordable. Such coverage protects you against essential emergencies.

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COBRA Health Insurance Subsidy Expires

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Image: clementine gallot under CC 3.0

COBRA is a law that allows laid off or otherwise unemployed employees to retain their group health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, many people are unable to utilize it due to the high cost. Former employees must pay the full cost of the premium (as opposed to having it partially covered by the company), plus an administrative fee.

A subsidy of up to 45%–included in last year’s stimulus package–allowed those who lost their jobs between September of 2008 until this May to more easily afford health insurance coverage. That help expired on June 2nd. Some may choose individual health insurance instead, but similarly priced plans on the individual market include less coverage, and are still able to reject people with pre-existing conditions until 2014.

Democrats in Congress are currently trying to reinstate the subsidy, since unemployment rates are still high (despite the official end of the recession). However, many are worried that the expense is too high to add onto an existing budget deficit, so its chances of passing are relatively remote.

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