Monday, January 26, 2009

Few laid-off workers keep health insurance

I read an article recently that stated only about 1 in 10 workers who lose their jobs will opt to keep their employer sponsored health insurance through COBRA. (Source: CNN)

Some people opt out of COBRA because they don't understand what it does and so they put the paperwork aside and forgot about it. They tend to focus on immediate items that need to be done: starting a job search, filing for unemplyment, etc. And, unfortunately, there is a limited time period to sign up for COBRA. Check out the United States Department of Labor website; it's a great resource to learn more about COBRA.

The primary reason why workers opt out of the program is that the premiums are too high. While employed, the employer pays 75-85% of the employee's costs for health insurance. When unemployed, the ex-employee is expected to pick up 100% of the tab. When unemployed and money is tight, many people opt out seeing it as an option they cannot afford.

According to Cover the Uninsured, 46 million Americans are living without healthcare coverage. With unemployment rates on the rise, and the high number of people opting out of COBRA, the number of uninsured in this country will continue to rise. The time for healthcare reform is now.

There is a wonderful resource few uninsured individuals know about: free clinics. Free clinics offer free or low-cost care to persons who have no health insurance and limited or no income. The range of services can include primary care for acute and non-emergent conditions, dental services, and mental health services. seeks to help the unisured by providing a Free Clinic search tool. To start your search, go to the Free Clinic Directory page, type in your zip code and click Search. You'll be given a list of clinics in your area. If you see a clinic you're interested in, please be sure to call in advanced. Inquire about any qualifications or fees, their availability, and the services they provided.

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