Unemployment and COBRA running out December 31

Unless Congress acts, unemployment compensation benefits for many workers will end December 31. Government subsidies for COBRA health insurance extensions for unemployed workers will also end.

MPR explains:

With the recession swallowing up millions of jobs, Congress tacked on three emergency extensions of varying lengths, known as tiers. Combined, they provide up to 47 additional weeks of benefits.

The eligibility period for those tiers is ending …
For Minnesotans who lose their jobs after January 1, the maximum period of benefits falls dramatically: from 93 weeks to 39 weeks. That’s also true for people who are already jobless but won’t exhaust their regular benefits by year’s end.

Workers already collecting under one of the extensions may be able to continue until that period ends, but won’t be able to move on to the next tier – unless Congress reauthorizes the extensions past January 1.

In addition, federal subsidies helped with COBRA insurance coverage. COBRA allows people to purchase the same health insurance provided by their employer by paying the entire premium after they become unemployed. The problem, as NPR explains, is that the average premium costs 83 percent of the average unemployment check. So the federal government has been subsidizing a large portion of the COBRA premium payments for unemployed workers during the recession – but that subsidy, too, will run out on December 31.

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