Meanwhile, about 70% of adults earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level who lost their jobs and health benefits became uninsured, compared with about 42% of those at or above 200% of the poverty level. And just 8% of lower-income workers continued their coverage through COBRA after being laid off, compared with about 21% of those with higher incomes who chose COBRA.
“Clearly, COBRA subsidies made a big difference for millions of unemployed people who had no other option for affordable health insurance coverage,” Michelle Doty, vice president at the Commonwealth Fund and a co-author of the report, said in a news release. “As the economy continues to struggle to recover, extending those subsidies would assure that workers, particularly those with lower incomes, could maintain their health insurance.”
The report concluded by saying that the full implementation of last year's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014 means that workers who lose their jobs will not also become uninsured. But the authors recommended that policymakers “will need to help bridge the gap to 2014 for the millions of people who are unable to find jobs.”