Saturday, January 24, 2009

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

[Welcome Insurance Forums readers!]

Just like those Christmas in July promotions, Santa Claus is coming in the next few weeks to a state near you.

It doesn't matter that the national debt is $10 TRILLION and counting. Or that Congress has saddled every one of us with almost $35,000 in debt (over and above our personal debts).

Your Congressmen and Senators are here to help.

In the next few weeks Congress is expected to deliver a Christmas bundle of money for the President to sign that is estimated to be $850 billion dollars. Unlike you & me, Congress has the ability to write checks even though they do not have any money in the bank.

Sweet deal, huh?

Included in the stimulus package are such items as this.

"Hundreds of millions" of dollars for contraceptives. This provision failed to pass in an earlier version. It remains to be seen if it will be included in this version or not. If included, this expands the definition of "economic stimulus."

Some $30 billion for COBRA subsidies. If passed, the subsidy would cover up to 65% of the cost of COBRA.

The bill would provide a subsidy for up to 12 months for those with COBRA coverage, allow retroactive enrollment into COBRA coverage, and extend the eligibility window for COBRA coverage for those 55 or older and for those who had been employed by their previous employer for over 10 years.

As of December there were 11 million unemployed. Many of those were covered under plans that no longer exist. As employers go out of business, the group plan is terminated leaving displaced workers and their families to find other options.

The average annual employer-based family policy in 2008 cost $12,680.[

Even with a subsidy, many families could pay $300 or more per month for coverage. I work with a lot of individuals and families who have lost their job, and their employer sponsored coverage, to help them find ways to keep their costs in check while they are unemployed.

Most of the time the options available are significantly lower than COBRA.

The bill would also provide 100 percent of federal funding for states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover unemployed workers and their families whose income did not exceed 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line and did not receive food stamps.

This means a family of 4 can earn up to $42,000 and still qualify for taxpayer funded health care.

This new spending does not include $90 billion already in the package to bail out state Medicaid shortfalls.

Yes, it does appear that Santa Claus is indeed coming and he has a sleigh full of money bags for everyone.

Nothing is said about being naughty or nice.
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