House votes to extend health insurance for unemployed

The state House of Representatives voted unanimously Wednesday for a bill that would extend group health insurance benefits for the unemployed from 18 to 30 months under the state’s “COBRA” law. It now goes to the Senate.

The federal COBRA law, named for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, allows workers at businesses with 20 or more employees to continue to purchase health coverage after leaving their job. The state version applies to employers regardless of size.

Under COBRA, the coverage can be expensive: A person may be required to pay the full premium and administrative costs, or up to 102% of the full group rate premium. But the federal government offers up a 65 percent subsidy, under some circumstances.

“At a time when so many Connecticut families are experiencing job loss, this bill will give them some peace of mind and a greater sense of security as they look for employment and affordable replacement health coverage,” said House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden.