News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org


New Northern Health Plan program helps unemployed make COBRA payments for health insurance

(May 15, 2009) Subsidies of $50 per month to help unemployed people pay COBRA health insurance premiums are available for people who involuntarily lost their jobs, even if they declined to take COBRA when they left their jobs or they elected COBRA and later discontinued it. The Northern Health Plan COBRA Support Program, supported by hospitals and health departments across an eight-county region, supplements federal “stimulus package funds” to extend health insurance benefits for families of people laid off after September 1, 2008.

In this stimulus package, the federal government pays 65% of eligible individuals’ COBRA payments; the Northern Health Plan COBRA Support Program helps them to pay their 35% share.

“We recognize many people who are unemployed will lack the financial resources to pay even the reduced share of their COBRA premium. The Northern Health Plan COBRA Support Program supplements the stimulus package and helps families with health insurance costs,” said Linda Yaroch, Deputy Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “We urge everyone who is eligible for COBRA to register for the program so they can get the health care services they need.”

To be eligible for the program, residents of the Northern Health Plan service area simply complete a short registration form and send documentation to their local health department on a monthly basis that they have made a COBRA payment. The health department then reimburses up to two adults in the household up to $50 each for up to nine months, as long as the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides for premium reductions and opportunities to sign up for COBRA. The Northern Health Plan service area includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, Otsego and Alpena, Montmorency, Presque Isle counties.

Northern Health Plan has allocated funding for 250 slots for the COBRA Support Program for an the eight-county area in northern Michigan, Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, Otsego in the Health Department of Northwest Michigan Health District and Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency, and Presque Isle counties in District Health Department #4 Health District.

The Northern Health Plan is a community partnership of local hospitals and health departments in northern Michigan to help uninsured people gain access to health care. For more information about the Northern Health Plan COBRA Program, call the Health Department of Northwest Michigan at 800-432-4121.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. www.nwhealth.org


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