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December 29, 2004

GOOD NEWS!
New York’s COBRA Subsidy Program Begins On January 1, 2005

NY State Continuation Assistance Program for Eligible Entertainment Industry Employees

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

After a massive four-year lobbying effort by New York’s entertainment unions, NY State’s “COBRA Subsidy” Program for entertainment industry employees has finally become a reality. Application forms for the New York State Continuation Assistance Program are now available at the Equity-League Trust Fund offices, at Actors’ Equity and will be available online www.ins.state.ny.us/cobra_intro.htm. The program helps income-eligible entertainment industry workers (as well as certain displaced factory workers) in New York State with their COBRA premiums.

Who is eligible for assistance? You must:

  • Be a resident of New York State who has held a position in the entertainment industry
  • Be eligible for, or already covered by, COBRA continuation coverage through a collectively bargained benefits plan, such as the Equity-League Trust Fund
  • Not be receiving coverage from a NYS Dept of Health program or Medicare
  • Not be currently eligible for employer provided coverage

Income Guidelines
Your monthly household income must fall within these guidelines. (Note: you must document your most recent current monthly gross income, including wages, salary, self-employment income, interest/dividends, social security income, retirement income, unemployment benefits, workers comp, royalties and residuals)

Family Size Monthly Household Income
1 Up to $1,984
2 Up to $2,663
3 Up to $3,342
4 Up to $4,021
5 Up to $4,700

How much will assistance will I receive?
The bill provides for a 50% subsidy of your premium. For example, if you are single, the current single COBRA premium is $373.13. With the subsidy, which is paid directly to the Trust Fund, your premium will be reduced to $186.56. You will be billed this amount by the Trust Fund.

How long will my subsidy last?
Once enrolled, you will receive up to twelve months of premium subsidies. If during this 12-month period, you become eligible for health insurance and go off COBRA, your subsidy would stop. However, if your coverage expires and you once again self-pay under COBRA, you can continue to receive whatever remains of your 12-month benefit. New York State has funded this as a Pilot Program with $2.5 million for 2004, and $1.25 million for the first-half of 2005). Premium subsidies will be drawn from this total allocation ($3.75 million) until the funds are exhausted. The current bill expires on June 30, 2005, but funding is expected to be renewed as part of the Health Care Reform Act later in 2005.

How long will it take to find out if I am eligible?
Once you have received your notice of COBRA continuation rights from your Trust Fund and elect COBRA coverage, you should file an application with the New York State Insurance Department. SID will subsequently notify you and the Trust Fund if you are eligible.

During the initial phase of the program, there may be delays due to the large number of anticipated applications; however, SID has promised an expedited review process. To avoid delays, make sure your application form is complete, along with the required documentation. The Department and the Trust Fund are dedicated to getting the program up-and-running as quickly possible.

Equity-League Trust Fund Notice
The Equity-League Trust Fund is sending notices to Equity members residing in New York State who are losing benefits on 12/31/04, as well as to current COBRA participants. Please contact the Fund offices at 212-869-9380 if you are losing coverage or are a current COBRA participant and need more information.

How do I find our more information?
Equity League Trust Funds: 212-869-9380 or www.equityleague.org
NY State Insurance Department: 1-800-342-3736 or www.ins.state.ny.us/cobra_intro.htm.





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