Senate Votes to Extend Unemployment and Cobra Subsidies

March 11, 2010

The Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would, among other things, extend jobless benefits through the end of 2010. In a 62-36 vote, the Senate approved a $150 billion bill that provides an extension of tax benefits targeting businesses and individuals.

In particular, this bill extends the federal Cobra subsidy of 65% through the end of the year and extends some unemployment benefits as well.

Either the House will accept the current Senate version the bill or they will have to meet to reconcile the different versions before it can go to the President for signature.

A previous article just before Christmas described an extension that President Obama signed that extended the Cobra subsidy by 6 months. However, as the unemployment rate still hovers just below 10%, many unemployed workers were facing huge increases in their health care coverage once the subsidy expired.

This bill will keep the subsidy in place until the end of 2010.

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COBRA Extension Signed into Law

December 23, 2009

President Obama signed the defense bill on Monday that contained the provision to extend continued health insurance benefits for laid off workers.

The law the President signed extends the 65% subsidy for an additional 6 months beyond the original 9 months that was to end December 31st. This subsidy is for workers laid off between January 1 and February 28th, 2010 and also to those laid off between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009, under the original bill.

The intent of the subsidy was to assist laid off workers from paying the full amount – 102% – of the health benefits they elected from their employer while working. The average monthly bill under COBRA for a family is $1,111, according to a study by Families USA. With the subsidy, the average monthly bill drops to $389. a significant reduction.

An estimated 14 million workers are expected to be eligible for the subsidy according the Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm. The bill requires the employer to notify current and future COBRA participants of the extended 15 month eligibility. For more information about COBRA and this latest bill, go to http://www.dol.gov/cobra or call 866-444-3272.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
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COBRA Extension Approved

December 19, 2009

I have been hearing a lot from people concerned about their COBRA health benefits expiring. As Congress approved an extension of unemployment benefits a few months ago, the concern was that the COBRA extension (where 65% of the monthly benefit is subsidized) would be left to expire at the end of the year. In fact, many who started the program in March of this year saw that subsidy expire at the end of November.

This morning the Senate passed by a vote of 88-10 the $626 billion defense spending bill. Buried within this bill is a provision to extend subsidies for COBRA another 6 months. The bill now awaits President Obama’s signature.
For more on this read here.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF Examiner.com.

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF Examiner.com, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/jpmcdermott
JP Headshot1