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More Than Half Of Unemployed Without Insurance Study Says

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, February 09, 2009 8:19 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: COBRA, Health Insurance, Unemployed, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Cancer

More than half of unemployed also don't have health insurance, a report by Families USA says.



IMAGE SOURCE:  ©iStockphoto/ stethoscope and wallet/ author: LOUOATES

A new study shows half of the low-income people who become unemployed, are also without health insurance.

The study from Families USA, a consumer group, reports that last December there were about 5.8 million jobless in the U.S. with incomes about $44,100 for a family of four, which is twice the poverty level.  Among those, 3.1 million did not have health insurance.  

COBRA carry over private insurance after a job ends, is designed to last up to 18 months, is too expensive for most.  The report says on average, COBRA can consume up to 84 percent of the family unemployment benefits.

A recent report from the Commonwealth Fund found that about one in ten takes advantage of COBRA.

In addition, workers from companies with fewer than 20 employees, are not even offered COBRA. Nor are employees of businesses that cease to exist.

Among those with coverage, about 20 percent had private insurance or military coverage.  One in four sought coverage through the government sponsored Medicaid for the poor.  But the majority of states make Medicaid unavailable for adults, unless they have children or are permanently disabled.  The report says, “Even if those adults are penniless, they are ineligible.”

For example, in 27 states, parents have to earn about $900 a month for a family of four, to qualify for Medicaid.

Families USA’s data came from the Lewin Group, owned by a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, Ingenix.  Lawmakers looking for a solution may make Medicaid more available for adults or subsidize the cost of COBRA through the economic stimulus bill.

The report says, across the country about 11.1 million Americans are actively seeking work, but in the meantime, a combination of being unemployed and uninsured puts the economic stability of many American families at risk.  #

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