March 16, 2021

Employment Law

COBRA Gets Fangs, For Now: Special COBRA Benefits Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

If you lost your job or were laid off after November 1, 2019, and you received notice of your right to continued healthcare benefits under COBRA, then you may be eligible for valuable benefits under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Typically, when you elect COBRA health coverage, you must pay all premiums, including both the employer’s and the employee’s share. But under the American Rescue Plan Act, there will be a brief period—from April 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021—when you don’t have to pay COBRA premiums at all.

If you’re currently receiving healthcare benefits under COBRA, you should be notified about your right to have premiums fully paid for you. This reduced rate continues through September 30, 2021.

If you previously declined COBRA continued healthcare benefits, you get another opportunity to elect COBRA benefits. If you count forward 18 months from the date your employment ended, and any part of that 18-month period falls from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021, then you regain the right to elect COBRA coverage where those two periods overlap.

If you didn’t qualify for COBRA benefits when your employment ended, or if you voluntarily quit your employment, you can’t claim reduced premiums under the American Rescue Plan Act. Also note that if you qualify for healthcare benefits with a new employer, this terminates your right to COBRA coverage no matter what.

You must receive notice, either from your employer or from a benefits administrator, of your right to fully paid COBRA premiums under the American Rescue Plan Act. If you previously declined or are currently receiving COBRA benefits, you must receive that notice no later than May 31, 2021. If you become eligible for COBRA benefits, you should receive notice of your rights no more than 44 days after your employment ends.

If you are eligible for fully paid COBRA premiums under the American Rescue Plan Act, but your employer or benefits administrator doesn’t provide notice or prevents you from asserting your rights, this may violate COBRA and related employee benefit laws. The attorneys at Wanta Thome PLC can assist you with making a legal claim and preserving your rights.

Contact Our Healthcare Benefits Lawyers

Wanta Thome PLC is dedicated to protecting the rights and employee benefits of employees in the Twin Cities area and throughout Minnesota. If you don’t receive notice of your COBRA rights under the American Rescue Plan Act, or if your employer or benefits administrator prevents you from claiming fully paid COBRA premiums, our employee benefit lawyers want to hear from you. Contact us for a free initial consultation.