Laid-Off Workers Face Expiration Of Health Benefit

A potential health care crisis is looming for thousands of unemployed Americans.

A federal subsidy to the COBRA plan ends today. COBRA is the program that allows workers to keep their company's health insurance plan after they leave their job.

The economic stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed in February cut the cost of COBRA by 65 percent for workers laid off after Sept. 1 of last year. The aim was to keep the ranks of the uninsured from exploding as unemployment moved toward double digits. But the discount lasted only nine months. Now, many still out of work are looking at a significant jump in costs.

A report being released today by the advocacy group Families USA finds that unemployed families who lose the COBRA subsidy will see their premiums increase from $389 per month to $1,111 per month, on average.


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