According to a study by the Treasury’s Office of Economic Policy, about a third of unemployed workers who were eligible took advantage of the COBRA subsidy to help pay for their health insurance.
COBRA insurance may be an option for health care coverage if you have been laid off.
COBRA is the law that lets workers who lose their jobs keep their former employer-provided health insurance for up to 18 months if they pay the premiums. A 2009 law provided a government subsidy for 65% of premium costs for up to 15 months.
If your former employer has 20 or more employees, the company is required by a 1986 federal law to offer you the option to pay for an extension of your health insurance coverage for at least 18 months. This law is known as COBRA, which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
At the time you are laid off, your employer must inform you in writing about your rights under COBRA. You then have 60 days from the date of the notice or the date your health insurance ended to enroll, or sign up for coverage under COBRA. If your company went out of business or went bankrupt, COBRA will not be available
The reasons suggested by the study for not enrolling in COBRA included having health insurance through a spouse’s plan or not being able to afford the premiums even with the subsidy.