Today, President Obama will come to Denver, Colorado to sign the new $787 billion Economic Stimulus Bill into law. While the majority of the bill is focused on infrastructure and other items to help jump start the economy, there were a few health insurance related items that made it through the final cut.
COBRA benefits are available to eligible employer sponsored group plans that employ at least 20 people. Because COBRA benefits lack the employer subsidies it can be shocking expensive and often may run $1000 to $1500 a month.
Under the new stimulus bill, the government will subsidize 65% of the total cost of the premium for the first 9 months. There may be opportunities for people to late enroll into COBRA for those people offered COBRA September 1st, 2008 or later and the plan is to continue through the end of 2009.
The mechanics of how to apply for this subsidy are all very murky right now, but hopefully that will come to light in the coming weeks. This law does appear to provide coverage for smaller employer sponsored group plans, specifically those with fewer than 20 employees. In Colorado we call these plans State Continuation Benefits plans.
There is also $87 billion in funding to help states administer Medicaid. Due to revenue shortfalls this funding is critical in most states, including Colorado.
Indirectly related the health insurance there is also funding provide for improved health care technology for the health care system.