Saturday, February 21, 2009

Health Insurance Help in the Stimulus Bill for the Unemployed

For many of those who have been laid off, there's help from the Obama administration's economic stimulus bill paying for COBRA health insurance coverage. COBRA is a law that gives you the right to continue employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for up to 18 months after being laid off or otherwise involuntarily terminated. It's a crucial benefit for those with pre-existing medical conditions, who otherwise could have a very difficult time getting insurance coverage.

The problem with COBRA is that you have to pay the full cost of the premiums; there's no employer subsidy and there is a 2% administrative fee. Full freight for a family policy can easily run over $1,000 a month--a steep bill for someone who's just been laid off.

The stimulus package provides a 65% subsidy for those who were laid off between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009. The subsidy lasts nine months and phases out for individuals making over $125,000 a year and married couples making over $250,000. Eligible laid off employees who didn't initially opt into COBRA should receive a notice about the subsidy from the their former employers giving them 60 days to enroll for subsidized coverage. Dec. 22, 2009: here's a little holiday cheer. The 65% federal subsidy has been extended through June 30, 2010, and workers laid off between Jan.1, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2010 are entitled to the subsidy, as well as those laid off between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009, who are covered by the original stimulus package.

Health insurance coverage is one of the most important things to maintain even while you're unemployed. Life without a job is hard, but it can become a disaster if you have major medical expenses and no insurance. Stinting on health insurance coverage can easily prove to be pennywise and pound foolish. If you're uninsured and can take advantage of subsidized COBRA coverage, buy it. No one likes paying for insurance--until they need it. Then, it seems like a wise purchase. Health problems are inevitable. The only question when you will have them. Since that's unpredictable, health insurance coverage is essential.

If you or someone you know needs more information about health insurance resources, see and

If you or someone you know is facing the loss of a job, there are a number of financial considerations to keep in mind. See

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