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COBRA’s Federal Subsidy To End Sept. 1

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 25 (UPI) — The federal subsidy for the unemployed to continue their health insurance from their former employer is set to end next week, a U.S. non-profit group says.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, gives laid-off workers the ability to continue being covered by their former employer’s health insurance if they pay for it themselves.

In 2009, the federal government provided a subsidy for these monthly health insurance premiums, which reduced the cost to the unemployed by 65 percent.

The Kaiser Family Foundation calculated the average monthly cost of maintaining COBRA coverage is $1,137 for a family policy and $410 for an individual, but with the subsidy, the cost dropped to $398 per month for a family and $144 for individuals.

“COBRA without the subsidy is pretty expensive,” Antoinette Kraus, project manager for the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, a coalition of 55 organizations that advocates for affordable quality healthcare, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think people are just going to go without health insurance. There’s not an interim solution for all these people who don’t have health insurance.”

Enrollment in the program ended in May 2010, but extensions stretched the subsidies out for 15 months, but the last of those eligible will lose the federal subsidy Sept. 1, Kraus says.

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