Thursday, April 23, 2009

COBRA/ARRA Update: No Kidding? We Called It

This morning's McPaper had this headline in its Money section:
The paper describes several scenarios under which laid off employees may fail the AEI (Assistance Eligible Individual) test:
Their former employer has gone out of business.
They worked for a small company and live in a state that doesn't provide extended COBRA coverage
So-called "mini-COBRA" laws extend many of the COBRA requirements to employers with fewer than 20 employees, as we reported almost two months ago.
Unfortunately, this is one case where we're not particularly pleased to be right; a lot of folks have learned the hard way that government largesse often comes with major strings attached.
ADDENDUM: Okay, so you're not eligible for COBRA, let alone the subsidy. What options are available?
Well, that depends largely on your health. If you're in decent shape, not taking a lot of medications, individual medical plans are a great deal. For one thing, you can customize the plan to fit your own needs (unlike "one size fits all" group plans). For another, rates for these plans are often lower than comparable group policies. Your first step should be to consult with a professional, independent agent who specializes in this kind of insurance.
If you're in California, that means someone like Bill Halper; if you're in Georgia, look up Bob Vineyard. The key is to find someone who can help you explore all the alternatives.
But what if you're on a limited budget, especially after being laid off? Or perhaps you have major health issues? Then you need to click on over to Coverage4All, an online resource that helps you find low-cost, even free health care options.
It doesn't have to be the end of the world; it just takes a little time and effort to find the right solution.
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