COBRA Subsidy Slowed Growth Of Uninsured, Report Says

USA Today reports that a new Treasury Department study says the federal COBRA subsidy to allow people to keep their employer's health insurance after being laid off "may have slowed the growth in the number of uninsured Americans during the recession. The study estimates that up to a third of eligible unemployed workers have taken advantage of the subsidy, which covers up to 65% of the cost of continuing a former employer's health care coverage for up to 15 months."

COBRA allows workers who leave their jobs to keep their health insurance coverage under their former employer's plan for up to 18 months, but they typically have to pay the entire cost of the premium. As part of the stimulus plan, subsidies were extended to the newly jobless. Researchers studied more than 6,000 New Jersey residents who were unemployed late last year and estimated "that between a quarter and a third of eligible jobless workers used the subsidy to continue their health coverage." Enrollment eligibility for the COBRA subsidy continues for people laid off from their jobs through May 31 (Block, 5/10).

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