Your Money: Health Insurance

by Lesley Politi on April 9, 2009

Your Money: Health Insurance

By Bruce Aune, Anchor/Reporter

By Daren Sukhram

CEDAR RAPIDS – Keeping company-paid health coverage after a layoff has been possible, but very expensive.

Under the law, COBRA coverage, as it’s called, required laid-off workers to pick up 100% of the cost.

But there are two new ways how someone losing a job can hold on to health care.

The price of health insurance under old “COBRA” rules could run as high as $1,000 a month. But the federal Recovery Act says workers laid off between last September and next December can get the government to pick up 65 % of the cost for nine months.

And anyone who turned down COBRA coverage before can ask again.

“Those who lost jobs and didn’t sign up for cobra do now have 60 days to sign up if they qualified before, and that’s important to keep in mind too,” says 2nd District Democrat Rep. Dave Loebsack.

But Congressman Loebsack says some unemployed workers can’t afford even a 35% share.

He met some of those patients at the offices of Linn County Project Access. This relatively new group has recruited specialists to provide free care for the uninsured and under-insured who meet income guidelines.

The first patient got treatment just last month, and one man says it made all the difference.

“I wouldn’t have gotten the care, this place really helped me out. Project Access really helped me, or I’d still be messed up,” said Larry Phillips, who received a free operation.

Project Access is open to people in Linn County who meet income guidelines and can’t get coverage from other programs like Medicaid or Medicare.

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