eHealthInsurance Launches New Initiative to Educate Consumers About COBRA and COBRA Alternatives
New National Survey and COBRA Learning Center Website Highlight the Need for More Information About Health Insurance Options
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 09/22/08 -- eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH),parent company of eHealthInsurance, has launched a new educationalinitiative designed to help consumers and HR professionals make informeddecisions about COBRA coverage and COBRA alternatives. Theinitiative includes a newly-released national survey which suggests thatmany consumers aren't even aware of COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus BudgetReconciliation Act) and healthinsurance alternatives to COBRA. eHealthInsurance also launched a newwebsite called the COBRA LearningCenter, which features helpful benefits information and financialtools. Extending the educational initiative are partnerships with nationalbenefits advisors like Willis Group that work closely with HR professionalsand COBRA-eligible consumers. Each aspect of the program is designed tohelp consumers as they face decisions about COBRA coverage in the wake ofincreased nationwide unemployment and layoffs.
eHealthInsurance commissioned a nationwide survey of over 1,000 respondentsto understand consumer awareness of COBRA and other health insurancealternatives.(1) The survey found that four in 10 adults surveyed knewlittle or nothing about COBRA. Sixty percent of adults surveyed did notknow that individually purchased health insurance can be less expensivethan COBRA. Additionally, only 45% of respondents were aware thatindividually purchased health insurance can provide similar benefits to aCOBRA plan.
Additional insights from the survey include:
-- Half of those surveyed who were eligible for COBRA coverage at some point in the past elected to receive it for themselves or a family member, while 47% say they declined coverage.-- The most common reasons respondents decided to opt for COBRA health insurance coverage were that they liked their employer's plan and wanted to continue with the same network and/or benefits (59%) and they thought it was their only option for health insurance coverage (52%).-- Expense was the most common reason people eligible for COBRA coverage declined it (68%), followed by the fact they were able to be covered on another family member's plan (44%).-- Thirty percent of those surveyed who refused COBRA coverage decided to go without health insurance coverage.-- Complete survey results are available upon request.
To address this information gap, eHealthInsurance launched the COBRALearning Center (www.COBRAlearning.com), whichprovides information and tools to help consumers and HR professionals learnabout health insurance options and make the best choices based onindividual needs and budget. The website features eligibility guides,educational content, and printable brochures and materials. Visitors canuse a new, interactive COBRAcalculator to compare COBRA premiums to some of the more affordableindividual and family plans that may be available to them. Consumers canalso compare and apply for individual plans online and utilize all of therobust shopping, sorting and customer service features offered onwww.ehealthinsurance.com.
eHealthInsurance also launched a co-branded website with leading benefitsadvisor Willis Group to distribute the COBRA Learning Center to Willisagents and their clients. This provides helpful resources to HRprofessionals that are advising employees during difficult transitions suchas job loss.
"With over 600,000 U.S. jobs lost so far this year,(2) a top priority forour company is to help workers who are facing unemployment find the right healthinsurance coverage," said GaryLauer, president and CEO of eHealth, Inc. "COBRA is an importantoption, but our research and experience working with the uninsured hasshown us that many employees and HR professionals are not aware of thealternatives. The COBRA Learning Center provides valuable information tothis population who otherwise might not know that they can find affordablecoverage in the individual health insurance market."
COBRA coverage is an important option for many, especially those withpre-existing health conditions, because individuals cannot be deniedcoverage based on their medical history. However, COBRA can be veryexpensive because consumers often must pay up to 102% of the premium thatwas partially covered by their employer.(3) By comparing rates andpurchasing individual insurance through eHealthInsurance, consumers canpotentially save up to 60% over COBRA premiums.(4)
"When I was laid off, Iaccepted COBRA coverage at $620 a month because I didn't know that I couldfind an individual plan with comparable benefits at a far lower rate," said30-year-old eHealthInsurance member Jason Bobo from Dallas, Texas. "Wefound a plan for my family online for only $288 a month. With four smallchildren under the age of seven and managing through a tough economy, itwas important to have both the right benefits, such as well baby care, andthe cost savings of more than $300 a month on premiums."
eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) is the parent company of eHealthInsurance, thenation's leading online source of health insurance for individuals,families and small businesses. Through the company's website,www.ehealthinsurance.com, consumers can get quotes from leading healthinsurance carriers, compare plans side by side, and apply for and purchasehealth insurance. eHealthInsurance offers thousands of health plansunderwritten by more than 180 of the nation's leading health insurancecompanies. eHealthInsurance is licensed to sell health insurance in all 50states and the District of Columbia. eHealthInsurance and eHealth areregistered trademarks of eHealthInsurance Services, Inc.
(1) Survey conducted on the telephone September 5-8, 2008 among a randomnational sample of 1,004 adults 18 years and older. The results have amargin of error of plus or minus 3.2% among the total sample of 1004adults. Certain questions did not apply to all of the respondents due totheir responses to other survey questions. As a result, the sample sizewas smaller for those questions, which causes the margin of error to begreater. Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ, conducted thefieldwork.
(2) September 5, 2008, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of LaborStatistics, Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation,http://www.bls.gov/news.release/jec.nr0.htm
(3) http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_cobra.html, U.S. Departmentof Labor, FAQs About COBRA Continuation Health Coverage
(4) Calculated using average total premium cost for employer-sponsoredhealth insurance coverage from April 2006 to April 2007 reflected in theHenry J. Kaiser Foundation study Employee Health Benefits: 2007 AnnualSurvey (http://www.kff.org/insurance/7672/index.cfm) plus the standard 2%administration cost charged to most COBRA participants; then compared toaverage premiums for privately-purchased individual and family coverage inAugust 2006 cited by eHealth, Inc. and Forrester Research in The Cost andBenefits of Individual Health Insurance Plans: 2007, April, 2007(http://www.ehealthinsurance.com/content/expertcenterNew/CostBenefitsReportSeptember2007.pdf).