Billions Would Target Health-Care Insurance
Byline: Associated Press
WASHINGTON u It will get vastly cheaper for most people to keep health insurance after losing a job if the governmentAEs stimulus plan becomes law. Some nickel and dime cuts in health coverage for the poor will be reversed, too. Geek jobs in medicine will grow.
The billions to be poured into health care from the economic stimulus package will do little if anything about the chronic conditions behind the nationAEs stubbornly large ranks of uninsured.
Instead the plan is a temporary lifeline, hasty measures for nearly desperate times.
Jobs arenAEt the central point of the package sought by President Barack Obama, passed by the House and steered to the Senate.
The point is to cushion the blow from losing one.
For those who qualify, relief would be substantial.
Under a dramatic, temporary expansion of COBRA, the law that lets the unemployed keep health insurance from their old job for up to 18 months if they pay for it in full, costs would drop by about two-thirds for a year.
Moreover, people who lose a job theyAEve had for 10 years could stay on COBRA at their expense all the way to age 65, when Medicare takes over, if they donAEt get another job with insurance first. People 55 and over could do the same without meeting the 10-year requirement.
ItAEs so expensive for people to extend that insurance now that many donAEt do it. It can quickly eat up a majority of unemployment benefits. …