Snuck somewhere into the Stimulus Bills passed in February, President Obama added and extended COBRA coverage for millions of American workers. Affecting these workers, and their employers, the bill signed into law created an extension of COBRA Health Care benefits for workers who had been terminated between September 2008 and December 31, 2009. Eligible workers will now be able to maintain their employer managed health care plans by paying 35 percent of the premium, while the subsidy and their employer will have to pay the remaining 65 percent.
This bill also allows individuals who did not initially wish to continue their plan to purchase coverage if they had been terminated during this period. This is good news to those who were laid off and could not possibly continue to afford their health care coverage while only receiving unemployment benefits.
Employers, on top of being responsible for the new coverage amount, must also give notice to employees that had been terminated that they are eligible for these benefits, as well as inform them as to the terms of receiving the benefits.
This is excellent news for individuals who are already having trouble coping with the harsh economic realities of the recession and the difficulty of being unemployed. This move allows for more individuals to retain access to health care and avoid racking up even more debt through medical bills. This move, coupled with Obama’s recent push for health care reform, could translate into better and more consistent coverage for all Americans.