Wednesday, December 30, 2009

COBRA - Not enough for some?

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) is a government program which allows downsized employees to purchase insurance thru their former employer for up to 18 months. The Obama administration put into the bailout bill a subsidy of 65% of the premium, as well, to help out unemployed Americans who need insurance. This particular program has been of GREAT help to those in my family during tough times - so much so that at one point I suggested a compromise health care reform step might be to change COBRA to have no set end point for the unemployed.

But now, many unemployed Americans are saying it is no help to them at all - even with the subsidies.

Cynthia Parras decided not to enroll in Cobra after she was laid off from her job as a financial-services product manager in San Francisco in February, because she felt she couldn't afford it. Over the summer, she was diagnosed with shingles. The infection moved to her eyes, and doctors told her she could lose her sight without treatment. She paid about $2,500 out of pocket. To help compensate, she skipped her mortgage payment last month, and signed up for a state insurance plan for welfare recipients.

"This is scary and degrading," she says. "I never have been without insurance, and never in a million years thought this would happen to me."
Stories like these remind us that no government program can solve all of the ills of the health care system, because some of those ills are part of the human condition. We should be careful with the final health reform bill, and humble in not trying to overreach.


shadowmom1 said...

Senators and congressmen humble? You must be kidding. Then again, they don't have to live under the rules they pass for the rest of us.

shadowmom1 said...

Cobra is invaluable to me. Even before the contribution by my former employer.