Health benefit for unemployed running outA federal subsidy program that helps the unemployed continue health benefits is ending and the number of uninsured is likely to increase.
By: Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A federal subsidy program that helps the unemployed continue health benefits is ending and the number of uninsured is likely to increase.
Most Americans get health insurance through work. As joblessness increased, the federal government paid part of the premiums for unemployed people on COBRA. That’s a program that allows people who leave a job to continue their health insurance if they pay for it themselves. Now the nine month federal subsidy program is ending. Families USA Director Ron Pollack predicts more people will go without insurance. He says it “will affect several million people right away and will continue to affect additional people as months go by."
In Wisconsin, options are limited says, Bobby Peterson. He directs ABC for Health, a public interest law firm in Madison that connects people to health care. He notes there’s a waiting list for the state Medicaid plan covering childless adults (the Badgercare Core plan). And a stop-gap measure providing basic insurance is still up in the air. Peterson says if the basic insurance plan, which is still being considered by the legislature, is approved, it wouldn’t be available until sometime in 2010. He says people don’t have a lot of options for affordable health care and with the elimination of COBRA, the number of uninsured will go up.
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development says the average unemployment check is $1,160. That’s $11 less than the average cost of COBRA premiums for family coverage.