When a provision in the stimulus package mandated an extension of the health coverage benefits prescribed in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) it also engendered a need for more information.

Officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the stimulus packages includes a 65% subsidy on the cost of COBRA premiums for up to 9 months for laid-off workers.

Now, both the government and private companies are establishing online tools to slake this need for information.

Mountain View Calif.-based eHealthInsurance Inc. has unveiled its COBRA Learning Center located at COBRALearning.com. The site contains a COBRA calculator that enables consumers to input the total cost of their COBRA premiums and calculate their out of pocket costs for COBRA after they receive the subsidy.

"Even in this difficult economic environment, it is important that consumers research all of their health insurance options and get covered," says Chris Hakim, director, COBRA solutions at eHealthInsurance. "Continuing your health insurance through COBRA is often the best health insurance option, but that's not always the case. People living on unemployment benefits and struggling to make ends meet may find more cost-effective health insurance coverage in the private market, at a fraction of the cost. This calculator allows them to explore their options and make sure they're buying the coverage that best meets their needs."

The federal government is also aiming to educate consumers. The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor have both unveiled COBRA themed sites.

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