Many workers who lost their jobs have been receiving a subsidy toward the cost of health benefits under the provisions of COBRA. That subsidy was 65% of the premium. That’s a hefty amount considering that the average price for family coverage is about $1,137 a month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. With the subsidy, COBRA coverage costs an average of $398.
Kaiser Health News reports that Congress extended the COBRA subsidy three times to cover workers who lost their jobs through May 2010, but lawmakers last year resisted another extension amid rising concerns about the federal deficit. The subsidy lasted for up to 15 months so it expires Wednesday. (There is one exception, a Labor Department spokesman said. If workers laid off before May 31, 2010 were allowed by their employers to continue to receive their work-sponsored health coverage, their subsidy eligibility would begin when the company-paid insurance ended).