Federal COBRA Subsidy News

This is a guest post by Nate Purpura.

Most people who’ve lost a job in the last year probably already know about the federal subsidy for COBRA health insurance benefits that was signed into law back in February of this year.

The subsidy covered 65% of your COBRA premiums for 9 months.

What folks may not know is that the subsidy is set to end on November 30, for anyone who started receiving it in March. Started in April, end in December; started in May, end in January; and so on.

I have good news for anyone on the subsidy. A bill in the House of Representatives (HR 3930) would extend the subsidy.

Here are some details:

  • First, it extends by 6 months– from 9 to 15 months– the total allowable time an unemployed worker can receive COBRA premium assistance. This will allow workers who enrolled in the program in February to continue on until at least May 2010.
  • Second, it extends this assistance to individuals who are involuntarily terminated between January 1 and June 30, 2010.
  • Third, it extends eligibility for traditional COBRA coverage an additional 6 months, from 18 to 24 months, for those terminated at the beginning of the economic recession in 2008.
  • No extended COBRA premium assistance or extended COBRA benefits would extend beyond December 31, 2010.

Even with the subsidy, the premiums can be very high. And, even with the extension, COBRA is not permanent.

We published an updated FAQ on the subsidy, which was featured in the SF Chronicle Blog on Wednesday: Federal COBRA subsidies start to expire Nov. 30

It might also help your readers if you also posted a link to our COBRA Learning Center where we have some great resources including a subsidy calculator, videos and FAQs.

Nate Purpura is a former new jockey turned PR pro. After slugging away at the local TV news game in places like San Luis Obispo, Redding and Sacramento, Nate broke into PR in 2000. He had early success in PR managing no-name start-ups like eHarmony.com and eventually parlayed that success into a start-up of his own, called Green Car Marketing & Communications. Today he’s managing PR for eHealth, Inc. where he does a lot of writing about health care for the self-employed and unemployed.

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