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COBRA

When professionals lose their jobs, after the initial shock, their attention immediately turns to medical insurance and the impact on their coverage. COBRA benefits have been around a long time, requiring that the candidate be allowed to maintain the full employer group coverage, but the individual has to foot the bill if the employer doesn’t provide that in the severance package–and former employers typically do not provide that benefit. Because of the extraordinary recession and extensive job losses, last year the Federal government began providing subsidies for COBRA payments. Yesterday, President Obama signed a measure to extend the federal subsidy for an additional six months, for a total of 15 months, up from the current nine. Under COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, severed workers can stay on their employer’s group health plan for up to 18 months–or longer, in some circumstances–provided they pay the full premium plus an administrative fee. With the subsidy, terminated workers pay only 35% of the premium. On the real estate front, let’s hope we start to see some recovery on the jobs front–it’s about time.

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