With millions of individuals out of work because of the economic crisis, there are a number of people who are without health benefits as they lost their insurance upon their termination. While there are still unemployment benefits that workers can collect, they can only last for so long. The government has made strides to ensure that individuals who have been out of work for 99 weeks after their discharge. According to the Washington Post, approximately 11.4 million out of the 14.9 million unemployed American citizens are collecting jobless compensation and benefits.
Despite having nearly two years to find a job with benefits, job applicants have found that many companies are still not hiring, leaving millions of people wondering what will happen when their compensation runs out and they become ill. As medical visits can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the illness or condition, there are countless Americans who are going untreated for serious diseases because they cannot otherwise afford medication. These jobless citizens are factored into the 32 million Americans who do not have health insurance.
Healthcare reform and what it means for unemployed
In a surprising motion, the House of Representatives approved healthcare reform, leaving it up to President Barack Obama to put it into law, which he plans to do on Tuesday, according to CNN.com. The $875 billion bill will make it mandatory for all Americans to have healthcare, ensuring that everyone will receive treatment. While the bill will not take effect until 2014, many individuals are eager to see what benefits they will get from the reform.
Government analysts believe that this measure will help individuals who have not been able to receive insurance because of their employment situation or their jobs do not offer healthcare. Additionally, some insurance companies have been known to drop clients who have an extensive medical history, or pre-existing conditions.
"We think it's a big step forward," Bill Vaughan, a policy analyst at Consumers Union, told StatesMan.com. "It's going to provide a peace of mind that many Americans who really want or need health insurance will always be able to get a quality product at a reasonable price regardless of their health or financial situation."
Individuals who are starting their own businesses
The news source reports that healthcare reform will be especially beneficial to individuals who are either unemployed or are staying in a job they are unhappy with just for the employment benefits. Universal healthcare will ensure that individuals who start their own business or quit their jobs are still covered under a health plan.
Part of the bill is geared towards helping individuals who own small businesses. According to INC.com, up to 50 small businesses (with no more than 100 employees) can pool together to purchase one health insurance plan for all of their workers. Under the healthcare reform, it will be a state's responsibility to set up the Small Business Health Options Programs, which are also known as SHOP Exchanges.
"If you lose your employer-related insurance, you will be able to move seamlessly into the exchange," Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, told the Statesman.com.
Health reform for large corporations
Under the new reform, companies with more than 50 employees who do not offer health benefits for their workers will be fined $750 per worker if any employee seeks out government funded insurance because they are not receiving other options, according to INC.com.
While companies with fewer than 50 workers are not required to supply their workers with health insurance, they will be given tax breaks as an incentive for offering benefits that will go towards paying for a health plan.