Stimulus Act Benefits for the Unemployed
Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer
Another change allows qualified beneficiaries to elect coverage under a second special election period (the first being when they separated from their jobs), which skirts HIPAA’s pre-existing condition exclusion rules for gaps in coverage lasting more than 63 days.
“This is good news for people with a chronic medical condition who may have had to let their COBRA lapse, or couldn’t elect at all due to cost,” says Kelly Mason, a consultant with Workable Solutions, an Orlando, Florida-based COBRA administrator. “Ordinarily, these people could potentially find that their new health plan won’t cover their existing health problems until a period of time matching the length of their gap in coverage has passed.”
Assistance for Older Workers
Older workers may benefit from an additional $120 million earmarked for the Senior Community Service Employment Program. The program helps unemployed, low-income workers aged 55-plus get training. This is primarily through paid community service assignments for jobs in their communities, according to Cynthia Metzler, president/CEO of Experience Works, an Arlington, Virginia-based organization that provides job training to older workers in 30 states and Puerto Rico.
“As of February 2009, 1.7 million workers age 55 or older were unemployed and looking for work,” Metzler says. “This figure doesn’t include older workers who have become discouraged and dropped out of the labor market. The additional funding will create more training opportunities for these workers, which will help them qualify for some of the 3.5 million jobs expected to be saved or created over the next two years as a result of ARRA.”
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