Health Insurance:

States' Protections and Programs Benefit Some Unemployed Individuals

GAO-03-191: Published: Oct 25, 2002. Publicly Released: Nov 27, 2002.

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The six states reviewed had in place a variety of protections, established prior to the economic downturn, to assist unemployed individuals in maintaining health insurance coverage: State-mandated continuation coverage, which required small businesses to extend their group health coverage to former employees and their families who choose to pay for it. Guaranteed conversion, which required insurers to allow eligible individuals to convert their group coverage to individual health insurance policies. Guaranteed issue, which required insurers to offer coverage to those who did not have access to group coverage or public insurance. High-risk pools, state-created associations that offered comprehensive health insurance benefits to individuals with acute or chronic health conditions. However, individuals usually bore the full cost of the premiums, which was usually higher than their premium cost under employer-sponsored plans. For individuals who relied on unemployment benefits as their principal income, premiums absorbed a significant share of the benefit.

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