[r85] Rep. Pond Column (4/14/2009)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Start Date: 4/14/2009 All Day
End Date: 4/14/2009


STATEHOUSE - People who have lost their jobs in the past few months may be eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance at a significantly reduced rate.


As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law Feb. 17, 2009, the federal government will pay 65 percent of COBRA premiums for those who have lost their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009 if eligible.


COBRA - the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act - is a federal law that provides continuing medical coverage.


I understand many people do not apply to receive COBRA benefits because the premiums are too high. On average, individuals will pay $370 per month and about $1,000 per month for families. With this new law, premiums could be as low as $130 per month and $350 per month for families.


For those not eligible for Medicaid or a spouse's health care plan, this new COBRA subsidy will cover the unemployed individual for nine months. This federal plan applies to dependants as well. 


For example, if you lost your job, and your previous health insurance through your employer covered your family, the COBRA subsidized plan would continue to cover your family as long as health coverage was lost because of involuntary termination.


Individuals exempt from the new COBRA plan are single people who earned more than $125,000 annually or couples who file jointly and earn more than $250,000 annually. 


If you have lost your job after Sept. 1, 2008, and did not file for COBRA, you can still do so and possibly receive these benefits. By April 18, all individuals who have lost their jobs before Feb. 17, 2009, and after Sept. 1, 2008, should receive a notice from their former employers explaining the new COBRA coverage.


So long as you don't remain uninsured for longer than 63 days, the medical coverage plan cannot refute any pre-existing conditions. This is vital to know, especially for those with chronic illnesses.


Once you receive notification in the mail from your previous employer about eligibility for COBRA benefits, you have 60 days to sign up.  Please do not hold off on signing up. This is a new and affordable COBRA plan.


More information about COBRA is available online at www.in.gov/isdh and www.cobrainsurance.com.