On his radio show today Glenn Beck launched into a full blown defense of the healthcare industry, by calling COBRA the healthcare safety net. Beck called the middle class college graduate from Maryland that President Obama referred to in his remarks last night cheap and stupid for not having COBRA. Beck has no idea how expensive COBRA coverage is.
Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:
Beck said, “So he changed employers, his health insurance expires, he didn’t go on COBRA, which he could do. There’s your safety net, COBRA, then he wakes up from emergency surgery that apparently saved his life, he didn’t have problem getting it, and apparently he didn’t have to fill out any paperwork…They saved his life. He didn’t have insurance. It sounds so broken doesn’t it?”
Later Beck called the guy stupid, “The next story is guy didn’t get COBRA. He didn’t access the safety net, because he was either stupid, either didn’t want to spend the money because I am young I am a college student, nothing will ever happen to me. Well, that doesn’t happen. I am invincible. I am young. I won’t get sick, why waste the money on COBRA.”
Beck has it completely wrong about COBRA. If the man in the story was employed, then he is not eligible for COBRA coverage. There is an eligibility requirement for COBRA. An employee has to have either lost their job or suffered a reduction in hours worked for any other reason than gross misconduct. If a person changes jobs, they aren’t eligible.
Even if the person in Obama’s story was eligible, COBRA coverage is very expensive. To maintain the coverage that someone had from their employer, they must pay 102% of the cost. Depending on the type of coverage the previously employed person had, it might be completely unaffordable for them to maintain their coverage.
To someone who is wealthy, like Glenn Beck, and can afford to buy whatever healthcare they need, the system is not broken. To Beck someone is cheap or stupid if they don’t buy COBRA. They believe that people who are uninsured have chosen to be in that position, and while there may be a small minority who has, most people want coverage. COBRA isn’t a safety net, and is not the solution that Beck is making it out to be.