Losing a job may be one of the worst days in any one’s life but thousands of unemployed people will be considering June 1 as particularly bleak.
As of June 1, people who lose their jobs after June 1 aren’t eligible for any subsidy (subsidized 65% of COBRA premiums for laid-off workers for up to 15 months) that were previously granted under the economic stimulus bill signed into law in February 2009.
COBRA allows departing workers to continue their former employers’ group insurance, but ordinarily, workers have to pay the entire premium, plus an administrative cost.
A Treasury study released last month found that up to a third of eligible unemployed workers signed up for subsidized COBRA.
The easiest way to get health insurance is to find a job with group coverage, but in this economy, that’s a tall order. How to stay covered:
Maintain COBRA coverage for as long as possible. While the COBRA subsidy expires after 15 months, COBRA is available for 18 months. The difference, of course, is that your premiums will skyrocket. Families USA, an advocacy group, estimates that the average family pays $1,107 a month for unsubsidized COBRA premiums.
Still, if you can scrape together enough money to pay the premiums for a month or two, you’ll buy some time to explore other coverage options, says Phil Lebherz, executive director for the Foundation for Health Coverage Education, a non-profit supported by insurance companies.
Carrie McLean, consumer specialist for eHealthInsurance, said that a licensed insurance agent can still help the unemployed explore the possible options.