Is COBRA still a viable option?
By Paul Wilson
Lately there have been an increasing number of studies, surveys and editorials talking about how expensive and unattainable COBRA coverage is for those who have been laid off.
I’m sure you’ve heard the numbers. Families USA says that the average COBRA health insurance plan would wipe out the majority of most workers’ unemployment coverage. And, according to a recent report by The Commonwealth Fund, just 9 percent of laid-off workers actually choose coverage under COBRA. The study adds that while the majority of workers are eligible for coverage, their payments would range between four and six times the amount they paid while employed.
Obviously, this controversial subject isn’t going to just go away and if anything, it will continue to receive more attention given the current economic environment and the fact that unemployment numbers are reaching record highs. And, the last time I checked, COBRA wasn’t the only portion of the health care system getting flak for being too expensive.
Programs like SCHIP are designed to help children caught up in this mess but what about the growing number of unemployed families who simply can’t afford individual coverage? What are their alternatives? Is COBRA no longer an effective option or is it simply being vilified for things it was never intended to provide in the first place?