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View Diary: What you should know about health insurance industry lobbyists and their lies (276 comments)

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  •  Obama includes COBRA help in his stimulus package (12+ / 0-)

    IIRC, they're allocating around $30 billion in subsidies for COBRA payments for newly unemployed workers.  COBRA premiums will be subsidized for up to 65% for 1 year for recently laid off workers.

    Oddly enough, it doesn't come with any requirement that employers/insurance companies ease COBRA enrollment deadlines or require insurance companies to ease some of their more draconian measures to avoid coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc.

    How do we keep COBRA subsidies from putting us on the slippery slope of government subsidy of private insurance as health care reform?  

    There's an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they're doing. PK

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 12:06:55 PM PST

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    •  COBRA doesn't last forever. (18+ / 0-)

      After 18 months, you use up your COBRA benefits -- such as they are.

      If you lose your job that offers partial health-insurance payments from your employer, you face a double whammy. COBRA doesn't offer you the same deal. That employer health-insurance kick-in goes away. You're on the hook for the entire amount, at a time when your unemployment insurance is paying you about 55 percent of your previous salary.

      Can't land a job within 18 months, one that offers health insurance? Oh, now you're in a world of trouble.

      I agree wholeheartedly with NYCeve that single-payer should be part of Obama's stimulus package and have even blogged about it at his (now website. Instead of choosing the "healthcare" topic, I chose the "economy" one -- there's no question that the cost of healthcare is an economic, and moral, issue.

      Want to give American business a real shot in the arm? Unhook healthcare costs from the job site. Employers who are reluctant to hire new workers because of the stiff cost of health insurance would have more freedom to add to their payrolls.

      Betty's got a real point -- Obama's COBRA subsidy plan is just throwing money at health-insurance companies. They're the problem, not the solution.

      •  Just an fyi (8+ / 0-)

        COBRA doesn't necessarily last for 18 months.  For smaller employers - under 50, I believe - there is only 9 months of coverage available.  That is, of course, if the company doesn't go under in which case there isn't even COBRA to fall back on.

        •  Re: coverage, alternatives, and healthcare in (6+ / 0-)

          other countries, I'd be interested whether anyone here has read Atul Gawande's essay in the New Yorker?

          It's called "Getting There from Here" and it details how some nations arrived at their nationalized solutions.

          It's an illuminating essay.

          •  Not until now. Thanks for the link (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nyceve, Xapulin

            Yes, very interesting. I still favor Single Payer, but what Dr. Gawande says, where she expects that we'll go, is still night and day from where we are now.
              The thing is too, is that people really should check this out because I expect what she is saying accurately reflects political reality in America.

            "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

            by elwior on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 06:17:19 PM PST

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            •  Just for the record, Gawande is a man, but I (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nyceve, elwior

              think it's quite cool to assume that the beautiful intelligent essay by an accomplished professional is from a woman.

              If you read and liked his New Yorker essay (where he contributes regularly) I highly recommend his (2002 National Book Award finalist) "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science." His book (and others, to be fair), lost out to Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate."

              I have to say, if Caro's book had never been written, we'd have one biography less of Johnson  (however accomplished), but if Gawande's book had never been written that would have been a real loss. It's suspenseful, lively, and engaging. I was riveted.


        •  And if you have it because you're a widow(er)... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alexandra Lynch

          If you have COBRA because you were covered by your spouse's insurance and your spouse dies, you get it for 36 months. That's assuming your late spouse worked for a mid to large sized company.

          Found out the hard way.

          Want to be a living kidney donor? I need one from someone with a bloodtype of B or O. Drop a note at

          by Kitsap River on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 05:03:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Especially if your employer goes belly up (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nyceve, Egalitare

        A seldom acknowledged detail about COBRA: it entitles you to buy coverage under your former employer's group policy. It does not entitle you to buy a policy from the insurer at the group rate your employer paid.

        So, if your employer goes out of business: no group policy, no COBRA for you. Likewise, if your employer stays in business but stops offering health insurance at all, there's no COBRA policy for you to buy.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 06:00:19 PM PST

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    •  that's great Betty . . . (4+ / 0-)

      what about help for the rest of us who are barely hanging on?

      •  I agree, its not enough (7+ / 0-)

        First, the benefit is in the form of a tax credit, as opposed to a voucher or direct cash benefit.

        If you're out of a job and collecting unemployment, how does a tax credit help?  Most people are going to have a difficult time making unemployment compensation stretch to cover basic living expenses, let alone make COBRA payments.  

        Health insurance companies are too smart to ask for TARP funds.  They know with Dems in charge, any kind of direct bailout will come with many strings attached, including expansion in coverage and eligibility.   They're trying to tap into the system indirectly, delaying as long as possible the regulations they know they should face.

        There's an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they're doing. PK

        by Betty Pinson on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 03:13:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't like that this "compromise" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alexandra Lynch

      I'd much rather that those of us who are recently unemployed be assigned to Medicaid. That $30 B is better used for direct spending on healthcare as needed rather than essentially padding the coffers of the AHIP and re-enforcing the lie that their business model is sound and efficient.

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