Monday, March 2, 2009
The Obama administration rushed to include a health care safety net for laid-off workers in the recently signed stimulus bill, but has not told employers exactly how to make it work.
As a result, tens of thousands of jobless people could wait months before getting help paying for health insurance that their employers previously had covered.
At issue is the program called COBRA, the acronym for the law that allows workers to keep their company's health insurance plan for 18 months after they leave their job, if they pay the premiums.
A $25 billion provision in the stimulus bill aimed to cut COBRA's price tag, reducing its cost by 65 percent for workers laid off as far back as Sept. 1. But employers are waiting for instructions from the Labor Department and the Internal Revenue Service on how to put the program into place.