Monday, February 2, 2009

Health insurance may get easier after layoffs

Posted By: Jen Lynch

Associated Press
By Calvin Woodward

It will get vastly cheaper for most people to keep health insurance after losing a job if the government's stimulus plan becomes law. Some nickel and dime cuts in health coverage for the poor will be reversed, too. Geek jobs in medicine will grow.

The billions to be poured into health care from the economic stimulus package will do little if anything about the chronic conditions behind the nation's stubbornly large ranks of uninsured.

Under a dramatic, temporary expansion of COBRA, the law that lets the unemployed keep health insurance from their old job for up to 18 months if they pay for it in full, costs would drop by about two-thirds for a year.

Moreover, people who lose a job they've had for 10 years could stay on COBRA at their expense all the way to age 65, when Medicare takes over, if they don't get another job with insurance first. People 55 and over could do the same without meeting the 10-year requirement.

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