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March 19, 2009
COBRA Subsidy Model Notices Released

The Department of Labor has published model notices to help organizations comply with the requirements of the new subsidy program for COBRA continuation coverage.

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The recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides for a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA continuation premiums for up to 9 months for workers who have been involuntarily terminated.

The department designed each model notice for a particular group of qualified beneficiaries. Each notice contains information to help satisfy ARRA's notice provisions. You can find the notices at the bottom of this article.

To qualify for the subsidy, individuals must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Is eligible for COBRA continuation coverage at any time during the period beginning September 1, 2008 and ending December 31, 2009;
  • Elects COBRA coverage (when first offered or during the additional election period), and
  • Has a qualifying event for COBRA coverage that is the employee's involuntary termination during the period beginning September 1, 2008 and ending December 31, 2009.

The department released the following 4 model notices:

  • General Notice (Full version). Plans subject to the Federal COBRA provisions must send the General Notice to all qualified beneficiaries, not just covered employees, who experienced a qualifying event at any time from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009, regardless of the type of qualifying event. This full version includes information on the premium reduction as well as information required in a COBRA election notice.
  • General Notice (Abbreviated version). The abbreviated version of the General Notice includes the same information as the full version regarding the availability of the premium reduction and other rights under ARRA, but does not include the COBRA coverage election information. It may be sent in lieu of the full version to individuals who experienced a qualifying event during on or after September 1, 2008, have already elected COBRA coverage, and still have it.
  • Alternative Notice. Insurance issuers that provide group health insurance coverage must send the Alternative Notice to persons who became eligible for continuation coverage under a State law. Continuation coverage requirements vary among States, and issuers should modify this model notice as necessary to conform it to the applicable State law. Issuers may also find the model Alternative Notice or the abbreviated model General Notice appropriate for use in certain situations.
  • Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods. Plans subject to the Federal COBRA provisions must send the Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods to any assistance eligible individual (or any individual who would be an assistance eligible individual if a COBRA continuation election were in effect) who:
    1. Had a qualifying event at any time from September 1, 2008 through February 16, 2009; and
    2. Either did not elect COBRA continuation coverage, or who elected it but subsequently discontinued COBRA.
    This notice includes information on ARRA's additional election opportunity, as well as premium reduction information. This notice must be provided by April 18, 2009.
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