Examining Loss Of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage

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Summaries of two news articles and an editorial about employer-sponsored health coverage during a weak job market appear below.

* AP/Washington Times: The AP/Times on Monday examined different health coverage options available to those who lose their coverage as a result of unemployment, including COBRA health insurance, individual policies and government health plans. Nearly two million jobs in the U.S. have been lost in the past year, leaving many residents to "find and pay for health insurance" on their own, the AP/Times reports. According to the AP/Times, the "price is steep with nearly any option, but pales in comparison to the financial calamities that await the uninsured" (Choi, AP/Washington Times, 12/15).

* Chicago Tribune: Individuals should add money to their emergency funds to account for health insurance premiums in the event that they lose their job and employer-sponsored health coverage, the Tribune reports. Karyn Schwartz, a senior policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "The coverage becomes a lot more expensive just as your income drops." A survey released by the Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust found that the average annual premium of an employer-sponsored health plan for an individual policy in 2008 was $4,704 and a family plan was $12,680. According to the Tribune, the "cost is easy to overlook" when planning emergency funds (Bigda, Chicago Tribune, 12/14).

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Editorial

"The need for Congress to reform this country's health care system takes on a new urgency when the number of unemployed has increased by 2.8 million this year," a Des Moines Register editorial states. "Congress has no time to waste in enacting reforms to ensure affordable coverage is available for all Americans, including those who have recently lost jobs," the editorial adds. It continues, "The only upside to rising unemployment may be political: People will finally support reforming the country's health insurance system."

The Register concludes, "Reform, which should include a government-sponsored health care plan similar to Medicare for all Americans, can't come soon enough" (Des Moines Register, 12/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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