August 31, 2010

COBRA Health Insurance News

The Wall Street Journal reports that a growing number of the unemployed are exhausting their extended Cobra health-insurance subsidies, eligibility for which expired at the end of May. There's a slim chance that Congress could extend the 65%, 15-month subsidy again this fall, but most experts think it's unlikely due to mounting concerns about federal spending.  As a result, more unemployed, and workers facing reduced hours and wages, are contacting online providers of health-insurance information about less-costly alternatives.

Group health-insurance premiums under Cobra average $1,100 per month for family coverage without the subsidy, but $385 with it, says the U.S. Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. The average enrollment rate in Cobra rose to 37% between March 2009 and May 2010, the period when people were eligible for the subsidy. (Workers who lost their jobs starting June 1, 2010, aren't eligible to receive the subsidy, though they still can enroll in Cobra.) In May, Cobra enrollment stood at 33%, says Hewitt Associates, a human-resources consultant.

Are you without coverage?
Expanded insurance options under the new health-care overhaul law won't be widely available until 2014. Meanwhile, online providers of information about health-insurance coverage like QuoteBroker Insurance Services,  provide free instant online health insurance quotes for individuals, families and small businesses.kers can continue to participate in their employers' plans up to the usual 18 months, or longer in some circumstances, once the subsidy ends. But many say they can't afford the full premiums.