COBRA Health Insurance Expensive, But Rhode Island Law Expands Coverage
Rhode Island law expands COBRA health insurance coverage to former employees of small businesses.
Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri (R) on Thursday signed into law a bill that "officially closed a loophole" to allow workers laid off from small businesses or firms that dissolved to receive COBRA subsidies included in the federal economic stimulus package, the Providence Journal reports. Carcieri signed the bill after state lawmakers approved the measure on Wednesday. The stimulus package provides coverage of 65% of COBRA premiums to workers in firms with up to 20 employees and those whose firms closed. The bill was fast-tracked to amend current state law before the April 17 deadline imposed by the federal government (Needham, Providence Journal, 4/10).
Providence Journal writes on COBRA coverage in Rhode Island.
"Under the federal COBRA law (named after the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), people who lose their jobs can remain enrolled in their former employers’ group-coverage plan, although they must pay the whole premiums.
"But COBRA applies only to existing companies with more than 20 workers. People laid off from businesses with fewer employees or those that have folded rely on a state law that allows them to purchase benefits directly from their insurer in a style similar to COBRA.
"Without a change to that state law, those workers, including the 280 from The Colibri Group, the East Providence jewelry maker that abruptly shut down in January, had no access to the subsidy."
Kaisernetwork.org materials have been used in this report.