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Jobless can't afford to extend health coverage

Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2009

Fewer than one in 10 jobless workers extends their former employer's medical coverage, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. The analysis found that while two-thirds of working adults would qualify to extend health-insurance coverage under a federal law after losing a job, only 9% of the unemployed do so. Workers are guaranteed the right to extend their medical benefits for a limited period under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. The law generally covers group health plans of private and government employers with 20 or more workers, according to the Labor Department. The Commonwealth Fund analysis, based on 2007 health-insurance survey data, found that most workers can't afford to pay for COBRA coverage, however.