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Health Insurance Subsidies End For Many Unemployed Californians

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Aired 12/2/09

Many Californians who have received federal subsidies to help them pay for health insurance after losing a job are now on their own. The COBRA subsidies that began last March have expired.

— Many Californians who've received federal subsidies to help them pay for health insurance after losing a job are now on their own. The COBRA subsidies that began last March have expired.

COBRA enables people who have lost their job to maintain their employer-provided health insurance by paying the full premium.

The average cost for a family in California runs around $1,100 per month; the federal subsidy pays about $720 a month.

Ron Pollack directs the non-profit group Families USA. He says many people who have lost the subsidy won't get timely care.

"And I have to say for those people who do get timely care, it's going to mean that they're going to go into substantial debt," Pollack says. "And many of them are going to have to declare bankruptcy."

A bill has been introduced in Congress that would extend the COBRA subsidy for another six months.

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