There are some snags in free COBRA health insurance for unemployed. Here's what you need to know

By Annie Nova3 days ago

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Key Points

  • A provision in the latest stimulus package nixes people's monthly COBRA premiums for six months.
  • Health care advocates worry people will miss out on the relief though because they don't know about it or experience trouble accessing it.

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Linda, a lawyer from California who was laid off from her job in January, is like millions of others in the pandemic who are living without health insurance.

But she discovered that the government would fully subsidize her COBRA health insurance premiums from April until September, thanks to a provision in the latest stimulus package. She immediately contacted her insurer to sign up. Linda (she asked not to use her full name) was eager to go to the doctor after contracting a painful urinary tract infection this month, which she feared could spread to her kidneys.

The rules in the $1.9 trillion relief bill passed in March seemed straightforward enough: The government would pay for people's COBRA premiums for six months beginning on April 1. COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, typically allows people who leave a company with20 or more employeesto stay on their workplace insurance plan if they can pay both their part of the premium and the share their employer was formerly paying.

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