David Kirkpatrick

September 30, 2009

What is COBRA?

With all the talk about health insurance and ongoing unemployment, COBRA gets tossed around a lot in news and conversation. Here’s a quick overview of COBRA from WeCompareInsurance.

From the first link:

previous article covered how the recent government stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), affects COBRA, but the more simple question is, “What is COBRA?”

COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and was passed by Congress in 1986 to provide health benefit provisions that provide continuation of group health coverage that would end, such as employer-provided health insurance for an employee who loses his or her job. COBRA amended the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code and the Public Health Service Act. If you qualify for COBRA you can keep your group health insurance for a period of time, but you do have to continue paying for your policy.

The following is taken directly from the Department of Labor’s website on COBRA on exactly what COBRA does:

What does COBRA do?

COBRA provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. This coverage, however, is only available when coverage is lost due to certain specific events. Group health coverage for COBRA participants is usually more expensive than health coverage for active employees, since usually the employer pays a part of the premium for active employees while COBRA participants generally pay the entire premium themselves. It is ordinarily less expensive, though, than individual health coverage.

You must meet a number of criteria to qualify for COBRA coverage, but if you do qualify make certain to complete your application and other paperwork within required deadlines. These deadlines do change – as in the ARRA event in 2009 – so it’s in your best interest to do some research and find out the current deadlines and requirements for COBRA. Currently typical COBRA lasts up to 18 months after the qualifying event, e.g., losing your job, and a qualifying disability can extend that coverage up to another 11 months.

Head to the Department of Labor’s COBRA FAQ page for employees for more information on its continuation of health insurance benefits.

July 16, 2009

Google, New America Foundation and public opinion on the National Broadband Plan

A release from today’s inbox:

For Immediate Release

July 16, 2009 

 
As part of the economic stimulus legislation (ARRA), Congress charged the FCC with creating a National Broadband Plan by next February.
 
The Commission has called for “maximum civic engagement” in developing a broadband strategy, reflecting input from all stakeholders.  Initial comments have been filed and now it’s the public’s turn to contribute their views and ideas.
 
To encourage public input, the New America Foundation is joining forces with Google to launch a Google Moderator page to aggregate public opinion on this critical policy issue. Google Moderator provides the general public with a forum to submit and vote on ideas you think the Commission should include in its National Broadband Plan.
 
After two weeks, Google and NAF will take the most popular and most innovative ideas and submit them to the official record at the FCC on your behalf.
 
We hope you will post your views on Google Moderator – and also forward this to your contacts and constituents. 
 
We can all help answer the FCC’s call for input from stakeholders ‘outside the beltway,’ including “industry, American consumers; large and small businesses; federal, state, local, and tribal governments; and disabled communities.”  
 
Among the key elements of a national broadband plan under consideration:
 

  • The most effective and efficient ways to ensure ubiquitous broadband access for all Americans;
  • Strategies for achieving affordability and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and services;
  • Evaluation of the status of broadband deployment, including the progress of related grant programs;
  • How to use broadband to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy efficiency, education, worker training, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and other national purposes.

As Commissioner Michael Copps noted, “Broadband can be the great enabler that . . . opens doors of opportunity for all Americans to pass through, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives.”  A national broadband plan promises far-reaching consequences for economic growth and equal opportunity across all sectors for decades to come.
 
You can join the discussion at: http://moderator.appspot.com/#16/e=a4977 

New America’s Wireless Future Program develops and advocates policy proposals aimed at achieving universal and affordable wireless broadband access, expanding public access to the airwaves and updating our nation’s communications infrastructure in the digital era. For more information, visit http://www.newamerica.net/programs/wireless_future.
About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.