Beginning April 1, employers with 20 or more employees will start paying the COBRA health insurance premium for employees who have lost their jobs. The premium payment perk is part of the recently signed American Rescue Plan Act. The free coverage ends September 1, 2021.

Required by law, COBRA requires employers to offer health-care coverage from the company ’s own health plan to those they let go for the next 18 months. But COBRA is not cheap and employers aret obligated to pay for any of it. Not only can companies decide to have the ex-employee pay the entire monthly premium, they can even charge the former worker a 2% surcharge.

A former employee can qualify for the American Rescue Act Plan perk as long as they weren’t released due to gross misconduct. All they need to do is contact their former employer and say , I want policy . While the free policy is meant for those whose employer-provider health plan will lapse as of April 1, it also includes those enrolled in COBRA; for those whose COBRA has lapsed; and for those who are in the decision-making window, that will be 60 days from the day that they were let go.

Employers will earn tax credits to make up for the lost earnings .

The initial intent of COBRA, or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, was to make certain that persons that were terminated or had their hours reduced, were entitled to medical care . The employer can pick up part of the tab and have the ex-employee pay the rest . Otherwise , the ex-employee is stuck with the entire tab.

And that tab is actual cash . A single person pays, on average, $600 per month. For a family, it’s almost 4 times, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While unemployment, countrywide, has eased a bit , tell that to the individual who’s been counted in these numbers .

Government statistics show that the employment-population ratio was 57.6 percent in February, down by 3.5 % from February 2020. In February of last year, 5 million people were looking for work; this February, it was 7 million. The people out of work for almost one-half year total 4.1 million — up by 3 million since February 2020.

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