Monday, March 02, 2009

Government To Help Pay Health Insurance For Out Of Work Americans

(SPM Wire) Americans who lost their jobs or will lose their jobs anytime between September 1, 2008 and the end of 2009 are about to find it easier to afford health care insurance.

The federal government has announced it temporarily will pay for 65 percent of the cost of health insurance for laid-off workers who lost their jobs during this period.

This provision was signed into law as part of the recent economic stimulus plan and will provide people with up to nine months of partial payments for their health care premiums. The money is available to those whose yearly adjusted gross income doesn't exceed $125,000 or $250,000 for those who file their taxes jointly.

The payments will be made through what is known as COBRA, a federal regulation that allows employees to keep their company health insurance for up to 18 months after they leave their jobs. Now, the government will help subsidize 65 percent of ex-employee COBRA premium payments if they lost their jobs during the qualifying period.

And workers who had turned down COBRA benefits can reapply and receive the subsidy if their layoffs occurred since September 1, 2008.

The new stimulus plan covers premium payments for coverage periods beginning after February 17 - the date the plan was signed into law - and is not retroactive for coverage prior to this date.

Don't wait too long to apply for the new government subsidy, as there is a window during which you are eligible, depending on when you lost your job.

There is some fine print, however, as many Americans who have been recently terminated worked for companies with fewer than 20 employees. These small businesses generally aren't eligible for COBRA, since it only applies to businesses employing more than 20 individuals. Speak with your employer if you have any questions.

For more information about COBRA, which itself became law in 1985, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Web site at

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