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Old 01-29-2010, 06:02 PM
 
4 posts, read 21,735 times
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I am in the process of working with an employment agency. Today I received a call regarding a job which is located 50 miles away and would last between 4 and 8 weeks with no chance of being longer. I would jump at this job even with this drive if I could retain my COBRA subsidy. I called the unemployment office and was told that they were pretty sure that I would be ineligible and gave a phone number to call. I beleive that this number was for a major insurance provider but the phone number was totally automated and ultimately required a participant number so I could not get an answer. If I were to take this assignment, it would cost me an additional 1,000 a month to cover my COBRA payment. I do want to work but cannot afford to do this. I am hoping for a longer temporary assignment (6 months or longer I can get health benefits) or permanent. Has anyone else had this issue?
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:36 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
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You can retain your COBRA premium subsidy provided you meet two requirements:

(1) You are not eligible for other group health coverage (including a spouse's plan) or Medicare; and

(2) Your modified adjusted gross income for the tax year in which you receive the subsidy does not exceed $145,000 (or $290,000 for joint filers). If your income exceeds this level, you must repay the amount of the premium reduction you received during the tax year. If your adjusted gross income is between $125,000 and $145,000 (or $250,000 and $290,000 for joint filers), the amount of the premium reduction that must be repaid is reduced proportionately.

A reminder: The maximum length of COBRA coverage is generally 18 months from the time of an involuntary termination. In December 2009, the COBRA premium subsidy was extended to 15 months. The premium subsidy is available to those who qualify for COBRA and whose involuntary termination occurs from September 1, 2008, through February 28, 2010.

You can find more details about the COBRA premium subsidy on the U.S. DOL website: Fact Sheet: COBRA Premium Reduction (http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fscobrapremiumreduction.html - broken link)

You can also follow legislative updates on another thread here: Prospects for Unemployment & COBRA Extensions.
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:23 PM
 
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I was getting the Cobra subsidy in 2009 and I was temping part of the time. If I understand the qualifications, this was fine.

Also, thanks for the link to the 2010 information! I was not aware that the 9 month subsidy was extended to 15, so it looks like I have some phone calls to make.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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diorgirl:

Thank you so much for the clarification. I was focused on the subsidy being tied to the fact that I was unemployed but it is really due to the fact that I lost my health insurance and access to affordable health insurance. It makes sense when you think about it. Employment does not equal access to a health plan so it makes sense that the subsidy stays in effect until I gain access to a health plan or run out of time on the subsidy.

Temporary employment is my way into an industry that is different than the industry that I worked in but I was afraid that I would lose affordable health coverage. I am awaiting clarification from my health plan provider - there is nothing like written documentation to ease one's mind.
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:34 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
3,814 posts, read 10,477,854 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annefh View Post
diorgirl:

Thank you so much for the clarification. I was focused on the subsidy being tied to the fact that I was unemployed but it is really due to the fact that I lost my health insurance and access to affordable health insurance.
Correct! Lots of people view COBRA that way -- and it's because eligibility is triggered by the job loss, and because COBRA is linked to your former employer (you continue in its plan, it pays the 65% of the subsidy, etc.).

And I agree, written documentation of your eligibility is important!
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Old 02-01-2010, 07:28 AM
 
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I have confirmed that I can take short-term assignments without losing my COBRA subsidy. Here is the response from my healthcare provider.


"You would lose eligibility for the federal subsidy only if you became eligible for another group health plan. I believe most staffing agencies offer a health plan once you hit a certain number of hours. Until then, you may continue to receive the subsidy.
Your COBRA coverage would end before 18 months if you became enrolled in another group health plan. If you become eligible for coverage through the staffing agency, you can remain on COBRA paying at full premium rate unless you elect other coverage. "
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:18 PM
 
845 posts, read 3,073,553 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annefh View Post
I have confirmed that I can take short-term assignments without losing my COBRA subsidy. Here is the response from my healthcare provider.


"You would lose eligibility for the federal subsidy only if you became eligible for another group health plan. I believe most staffing agencies offer a health plan once you hit a certain number of hours. Until then, you may continue to receive the subsidy.
Your COBRA coverage would end before 18 months if you became enrolled in another group health plan. If you become eligible for coverage through the staffing agency, you can remain on COBRA paying at full premium rate unless you elect other coverage. "
Now that you mention this, my temp agency mailed me something about insurance soon after I started temping, so you might want to be safe and find out how long it takes to become eligible for insurance at the staffing agency you are thinking of working for.

Also, I wonder if the type of insurance it is would make a difference? The packet I got stated that the insurance did not count as insurance for Massachusetts (there are tax penalties in Massachusetts for not having insurance), so I did not keep reading after that (it did not look like real insurance and I did not know about the Cobra piece!).

One more thing to worry about eh? I hope temping works out for you better than it did for me (it sounds like career wise it makes sense for you).
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:29 PM
 
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As long as you aren't in another insurance plan or Medicare then you are eligible to continue your COBRA benefits. However you may not be able to get back on unemployment if you are on it now and take a temp job. You should look into it first. Does the temp job really pay enough to warrant that long a drive too?
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:16 PM
 
845 posts, read 3,073,553 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtneer View Post
As long as you aren't in another insurance plan or Medicare then you are eligible to continue your COBRA benefits. However you may not be able to get back on unemployment if you are on it now and take a temp job. You should look into it first. Does the temp job really pay enough to warrant that long a drive too?

Hi,

From the bold section in the OP's post above, it looks like being eligible/offered other insurance can also effect eligibility for the subsidy.

I got back on unemployment after temping (but at a lower rate due to benefit year ending and temping causing new claim), so it can happen (have heard stories of trouble with this as well though).
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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If I quit my job next week 02/08 with two weeks notice, will I qualify for the extended COBRA benefits? Thanks
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