Health Bills Would Maintain COBRA, Offer More Help For Unemployed

The health care reform bills would keep provisions from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that allow workers who lose their jobs to buy health insurance through their old plan,  The Plain Dealer reports in answer to a reader's question. But the Cleveland paper notes that other options could also be available. "The health care reform bills under consideration by Congress would maintain COBRA but also let displaced workers buy alternative insurance policies through a health insurance exchange that anyone would be eligible to use," the Plain Dealer says. 

"Legislation under consideration in the House of Representatives would provide subsidies to help people buy insurance, and the newly unemployed could immediately apply for them, says House Education and Labor Committee spokesman Aaron Albright. Subsidies would be available even for people who don't lose their jobs. . . . A bill approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also would subsidize health insurance purchases for people with income up to 400 percent of the poverty level. Subsidies would be available on a sliding scale to ensure that consumers would not have to spend more than 12.5 percent of their income to buy the least expensive insurance plan available in their region, Senate staffers say" (Eaton, 9/3).

Meanwhile, CNNMoney reports on what the unemployed can do when their jobless benefits run out (Willis, 9/3).

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