Squeezed! Caught between Unemployment Benefts And Health Care Costs

Source: FamiliesUSA, January 2009

From the press release:
A report issued on the same day that the government released its latest unemployment data shows why most laid-off people are likely to lose their health coverage: The average national premium costs for family COBRA coverage consume almost 84 percent of average unemployment benefits.

The report, issued by the consumer health organization Families USA, focuses on the unaffordability of COBRA coverage, which allows laid-off workers to retain their employer-based insurance if those laid-off workers pay the full cost of that coverage.

The average unemployment insurance (UI) benefit varies substantially from state to state, as do average COBRA premiums. According to the report:

    * On average, nationally, UI monthly benefits are $1,278, while COBRA monthly premiums for family coverage are $1,069, or 83.6 percent of UI benefits.

    * In 41 states (AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IO, KS, LA, ME, MD, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, and WY) plus the District of Columbia, COBRA family coverage premiums, on average, consume more than three-fourths of average UI benefits.

    * In nine of those states (AL, AK, AZ, DE, FL, LA, MS, SC, and WV), the average COBRA premiums equal or exceed average UI benefits.

    * In 17 states (AL, AK, AZ, DE, FL, LA, ME, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, SC, SD, TN, WV, and WI) plus the District of Columbia, COBRA premiums for single coverage of workers consume, on average, more than one-third of UI income.
See also:
Key findings
Related story:
Unemployed Workers Need Assistance Paying for Health Insurance; Only About One of Ten Obtain COBRA Coverage
Source: Commonwealth Fund, January 23, 2009

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