COBRA Premium Assistance FAQs and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
On April 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL), Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) released frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing how certain provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) apply to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). The FAQs provide answers to general questions, inquiries about premiums, notices, and more.
More information is provided on the COBRA Premium Subsidy website and EBSA also released the following model notices:
- General Notice and Election Notice
- Notice in Connection with Extended Election Period
- Alternative Notice
- Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance
- Summary of the COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions
COBRA continuation coverage provides certain group health plan continuation coverage rights for participants and beneficiaries covered by a group health plan. In general, under COBRA, an individual who was covered by a group health plan on the day before the occurrence of a qualifying event (such as getting fired or a reduction in hours that causes loss of coverage under the plan) may be able to elect COBRA continuation coverage when that qualifying event occurs. These individuals are referred to as qualified beneficiaries. Under COBRA, group health plans must provide covered employees and their families with certain notices explaining their COBRA rights.
Section 9501 of the ARP provides for COBRA premium assistance to help assistance eligible individuals continue their health benefits. The premium assistance is also available for continuation coverage under certain state laws. Assistance eligible individuals are not required to pay their COBRA continuation coverage premiums. The premium assistance applies to periods of health coverage on or after April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. An employer or plan to whom COBRA premiums are payable is entitled to a tax credit for the amount of the premium assistance.
The DOL also provides more information about the COBRA Premium Subsidy on its website.