COBRA loses federal subsidy, future of the program questioned

Cobra Health InsuranceThe end is nigh for one of the federal government’s most popular and well-used insurance plans. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, more famously known as COBRA, will no longer be subsidized by the government beginning next week. The demise of the subsidy, which has provided insurance coverage to millions of unemployed citizens throughout the nation by lowering the cost of COBRA, has been met with little fanfare. After the subsidy ends, the options for those unable to afford conventional insurance coverage will become slimmer.

Despite being designed to help the unemployed obtain health insurance, COBRA is a massively expensive program for both the government and consumers. Without the subsidy, the costs of the program will only grow, putting immense strain on consumers who already had trouble affording the coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation has expressed concern over the issue, stating that many families may be going without health insurance simply because they can no longer afford it.

As individuals and groups drop out of the program, COBRA will no longer be self-sustaining. The fate of the program lies with Congress, who will determine whether the program can continue without federal support or if it will be allowed to dissolve. Thus far, legislators have shown little interest in backing COBRA mostly because of the coming of health insurance exchanges that would have made the program obsolete. However, the unemployed will still not be able to afford coverage through exchanges and will be left without any insurance, which would put them in violation of federal law.

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