The program was particularly popular, however, among the unemployed, because it worked, says Cheryl Fish-Parcham, the deputy director for health policy for Families USA. “It gave unemployed people the opportunity to use the same health insurance, see the same providers, use the same services – and it was a premium they could afford for a short time,” says Ms. Fish-Parcham.
She says one indication that it worked: it doubled the normal intake of people using COBRA. Now, she says, people have limited options for affordable insurance.
One of those is Jaime Wild, who was laid-off a month ago as the director of social services for the township of Montville, New Jersey. Ms. Wild, with one nine-month-old and a 2-1/2 year-old, lost her health care coverage, which also covered her husband, an electrician with multiple sclerosis (in remission).
Since she knew in January she would be laid-off, she started researching alternative health insurance since COBRA coverage would cost over $1,400 a month for her family. “We can’t let our health insurance lapse,” says Wild.
She ultimately found a private insurer that is less expensive than COBRA but not as comprehensive.
“It has a $500 a year cap on prescription drugs,” she says, an amount that she anticipates they will reach quickly.