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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Americans given another lifeline

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

As you know, the Senate passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Christmas Eve. While this is a huge gift for those who have worked tirelessly for health reform, there was a bonus stocking stuffer this past December, as well.

President Obama signed a defense spending bill into law on December 19. Within that bill was a provision that extends subsidies for unemployed workers receiving COBRA benefits. While this may seem like a lot of legislative mumbo-jumbo, here's what you need to knowThis provision helps hard-working Americans who have fallen on hard times keep their health coverage.

In a recent post, we detailed why the COBRA subsidy was so crucial to American families. Without the subsidy, many laid-off workers are forced to pay upwards of 83% of their unemployment income just to keep their health insurance.

The Miami Herald chronicled the story of Jeff Krebs, who lost his job 16 months ago. His wife recently lost her job as well, and they struggled to make ends meet. As an unemployed family, they had little to no disposable income, and simply couldn't afford to buy health insurance in an individual market, but

Thanks to the COBRA subsidy, their premium was $450 a month. Without an extension, the Krebs were facing a jump to $1,550.

Imagine that. You've recently lost your job and your steady income. Now all of a sudden you have to pay health care premiums by yourself, without the help of your employer. That is a scary prospect.

With the extension of the COBRA subsidy, many will be able to continue their health coverage who otherwise would have had to join the ranks of the uninsured. For thousands of out-of-work Americans, this is the perfect start to the new year.