Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus bill containing items boosting COBRA benefits for the recently laid-off during the nation’s economic downturn.
COBRA benefits basically mean continuation of health care insurances that otherwise end when an employee is terminated. Usually, the former employee takes on the entire benefit cost.
This is important because a company may pay about 75 percent of health care premiums for an employee – leaving that employee to pay 25 percent. After job loss, 100 percent of the premium shifts to the former employee.
Where an employee paid $100 a month for medical coverage they suddenly find themselves paying $400 a month at a time they can least afford it – layoff. The stimulus law comes in with a 65 percent premium payment and means the former employee now pays $140 a month and the federal government (funded by taxpayers) pays the $260 remainder.
In addition, the law is retroactive on the COBRA provision, meaning those laid off after Sept. 1, 2008 who refused COBRA based on the price tag will be offered another chance to enroll.
The stimulus law’s provisions should be shouted more effectively for laid-off workers. An immediate scan of media showed only a few print publications picked up on the key COBRA provisions.
The Wall Street Journal listed all of the bill’s provisions here:
Blogger Melissa Healy at the Los Angeles Times had the easiest to digest story about the stimulus law. She quoted Human Resource consultants to make sense of the bill turned law as shown here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/02/unemployed-stim.html .
Healy’s blog entry steers the even more curious and concerned about those laid off to the U.S. Department of Labor website and information here: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/compliance_assistance.html .
As this is my blog I can turn from the news with ease to offer opinion.
God bless you Ms. Healy for putting out there your useful analytical blog entry showing hope and help to those struggling after their lay offs.