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Three quarters of those who have lost jobs and health insurance are skipping needed health care
Date:8/23/2011

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The report, based on findings from The 2010 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, notes that in 2010, 57 percent of those who said they had lost their job with health benefits in the past two years became uninsured because they had limited options for acquiring affordable health insurance that met their needs. In Realizing Health Reform's Potential: When Unemployed Means Uninsured: The Toll of Job Loss on Health Coverage and How the Affordable Care Act Will Help, the authors find that COBRA is less likely to be an option for those who need it most: only 25 percent of workers with incomes less than 133 percent of poverty (just under $30,000 for a family of four in 2010) would have been eligible for COBRA if they had lost their jobs, compared with 73 percent of workers with household incomes at 400 percent of poverty or more (just over $88,000 for a family of four in 2010).

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 substantially offset the cost of COBRA for some unemployed workers by covering 65 percent of their COBRA premiums. Despite the fact that several studies have found that COBRA enrollment among eligible individuals increased after the subsidies went into effect, helping millions of people who lost their jobs stay insured, these subsidies have not been offered to newly laid-off workers since last year.

"Clearly COBRA subsidies made a big difference for millions of unemployed people who had no other option for affordable health insurance coverage," said Michelle Doty, Commonwealth Fund Vice President and co-author of the report. "As the economy continues to struggle to recover, extending those subsidies would assure that workers, particularly those with lower incomes, could maintain their health insurance."

The individual insurance market is also not a viable option for those who have lost a job and health insurance. The report finds that 60 percent of people who shopped for individual insuranc
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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