From contributor Eddie Lakin
As a husband and father of two young children, maintaining my health insurance during my unemployment is a high priority. My wife works part time and so isn't eligible for her employer's group plan.
So, when I was laid off, enrolling for an extension of my employer's group plan through COBRA seemed like the only logical thing to do. Until I started getting the bills, that is. $900+/month. Whoa.
We started shopping around for a plan that we could purchase independently, and found some at around $400-$500/month, which is an improvement, but the prospect of having to go through the exhaustive application form-filling-out process was daunting, and we were holding out hope that I'd get a new job soon, which would provide (in our fantasty) wonderful insurance benefits.
I'd heard on the radio not too long ago that President Obama's huge economic stimulus plan included the idea of subsidizing people's COBRA costs to the tune of 65%. "Great!" I thought, although I wondered how many months that would take to kick in, whether I'd be excluded for one reason or another, and generally allowed my cynicism about government to squash any hope I might've had that this thing would actually helping our family.
But, incredibly, right around the end of February, I received a notice from COBRA about it, and was informed that my monthly payment was going from $904 to $328. Wow. That's huge.
What's even better, this was effective as of March 1st. In other words, right now. So Obama's stimulus bill has already saved this family almost $600, money that we promptly dropped right back into the economy in the form of paying utility bills, buying food, and paying our mortgage.
The money's great. It's breathing room that we need right now. But the best part of this is the newfound optimism it's given me about the government, now that Obama's in charge. I'm simply amazed at how quickly this kicked in, and that I didn't have to go through any long, involved application process.
So, thanks, President Obama, for the $572/month. I'll do my best to turn it right around and put it back into circulation, stimulating the economy to the best of my ability. But also, thanks for restoring some faith in the concept that the government can actually help people, in an efficient and timely manner. It's been a long time since I've felt that way.