COBRA

COBRA

What we commonly refer to as COBRA, short-term health insurance for the unemployed, was included in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.   It grants workers and their families the option to keep their group insurance health benefits for up to 18 months (although the exact time may vary depending on a number of factors). COBRA enables a worker to purchase health insurance through their ex-employer, if they are subject to a “qualifying event”, even though they no longer work there. A qualifying event includes the end of employment for any reason other than “gross misconduct”, or a reduction in work hours (again for anything other than gross misconduct). Only employers with 20 or more workers are subject to COBRA.

Cry Wolf Quotes

...we remind you that unemployment compensation is not a poverty program. Some claimants have substantial assets. For example, 1979 income tax records reflect more than 1 ½ million tax returns reporting adjusted gross income of $20,000 or higher and also receipt of unemployment compensation. Moreover, when unemployment benefits are combined with other income-support programs, some claimants actually come out better than when they were working.

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Eric J. Oxfield, Employee Benefits Attorney, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Testimony, Senate Finance Committee.
04/21/1983 | Full Details | Law(s): COBRA

Many options already exist to provide unemployed persons with health insurance or protection against health care costs. These include: continuous coverage provisions in many employer-paid health care plans; the conversion privilege offered in many of these same plans: coverage under a spouse’s or other relative’s plan; and the social safety net, Medicaid.

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Jan Peter Ozga, Director of Health Care, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Testimony, Senate Finance Committee.
04/21/1983 | Full Details | Law(s): COBRA

Finally, we vigorously oppose proposals that would mandate a minimum benefit package. This requirement goes beyond the problem being addressed and infringes on the right of employers and employees to develop the kind of health care coverage they want and can afford at a time when employers and employees are being very creative in the design and are negotiating a very hard line with the providers and carriers of health care for more cost effective health care plans. Such a requirement would be particularly onerous to small businesses, which have been most severely affected by the recent recession.

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Jan Peter Ozga, Director of Health Care, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Testimony, Senate Finance Committee.
04/21/1983 | Full Details | Law(s): COBRA

Eligibility for such a program must be limited in scope….Individuals should be excluded if coverage can be obtained by another family member who is eligible for employer-based coverage or is eligible for continuation of an employer-offered health benefit plan. In addition, persons who are eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or other government programs should be required to use such coverage. Stating this more generally, the new benefit should be secondary to other coverage.

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Statement of Joseph F. Boyle, M.D., Chairman of the Board of Trustees, American Medical Association, Chicago, Accompanied by Dr. James Sammons, Executive Vice President and Harry Peterson, Director, Testimony, Senate Finance Committee.
04/21/1983 | Full Details | Law(s): COBRA