COBRA Still Bites: Opting for No Health Insurance, Even When Gov Pays 65% of Tab

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For many unemployed Americans, health insurance isn’t remotely affordable—even with the government subsidizing 65% of former workers’ policy premiums.

It’s difficult to get an estimate on just how many people eligible for subsidized COBRA payments have actually decided to forego health insurance altogether. One stat I’ve seen says that 38% of those eligible for subsidized insurance signed on this year, up from just 19% electing for COBRA coverage before the government subsidy. And just today, the WSJ reported these tidbits:

Government officials initially estimated that some seven million people would be helped by the subsidy. But only half have tapped the subsidy program, estimates Ceridian Benefits Services, the nation’s largest Cobra administrator. In a survey of 50,000 businesses released in October, Ceridian said 17.7% of former employees enrolled in Cobra, up from 12.4% last year before the subsidy was introduced.

So, somewhere between 60% and 85% of the folks who are eligible for subsidized COBRA coverage have said, “No thanks, can’t do it.” For well over half of the people who lost their jobs in recent months, even paying a measly 35% of a health insurance policy is simply out of the question.

Read more:
Message to Congress: COBRA Bites