Nearly 15 million Americans lost employer-based health insurance. Here’s how to get health coverage again

By Elisabeth Buchwald


COBRA, short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets workers at companies of 20 or more employees extend their health coverage for up to 18 months after losing their jobs.

Americans who were laid off during the pandemic may have opted for COBRA health insurance believing they were going to get another job in four months, but many are still unemployed “and still paying really expensive premiums,” said Suzanne Wikle, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization focused on policy initiatives for low-income people. 

Annual premiums for job-based health coverage in 2019 were $7,188 on average for single coverage and $20,576 for family coverage, according to Kaiser Family Foundation survey data; employers contributed about 83% and 71% of those premiums, respectively.


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