Insurance help for unemployed people

    A new federal plan gives laid-off people a 65 percent discount on their COBRA health insurance premiums.

    Workers who lose their jobs usually lose their health benefits. But the federal government is giving laid-off people a hefty discount to help them hold onto their coverage.



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    When someone leaves a job a federal law called COBRA allows them to temporarily keep their workplace health insurance. But it’s a pricey option. A single person can pay $400 a month. Family plans cost $1000 or more.

    The federal stimulus plan gives laid-off workers a 65 percent discount for nine months. But in Pennsylvania small businesses don’t qualify for COBRA, so workers laid off from small firms don’t get a break on their premiums. Representative Rob Matzie is sponsoring the House bill that would change that.

    Matzie: Unless we have the statue in place for the mini-COBRA to cover small employers — who have between two and 20 employees — we would not be able to take advantage of this relief under the stimulus package.

    A similar bill has already cleared the state Senate.

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