COBRA Subsidy Set to Expire

A subsidy that paid 65 percent of COBRA premiums for unemployed workers is set to expire December 31st – that’s if Congress fails to pass legislation to extend it.

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provision has allowed many laid-off workers to continue health care coverage while unemployed. Without Congress’ help, many could lose that assistance as early as this month.

Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) has introduced a bill to extend and expand the provision. If passed, the subsidy would be provided for up to 15 months, instead of nine. Those laid off between January and June 30, 2010, would be eligible to participate. In addition, the bill would extend traditional COBRA coverage for those laid off at the beginning of 2008, from six to 24 months.

“Losing one’s job is difficult enough,” said Rep. Sestak. “But losing one’s health care along with it – and worrying about being able to get treatment for oneself and one’s family, or fearing bankruptcy in the event of injury or illness – is something Americans should not have to cope with in this difficult time.”