Reminder: Deadline Approaches for COBRA Subsidy Final Notice

Sept. 15 is the final deadline to send COBRA subsidy expiration notices

By Tripp VandeWal and Brett N. Liefbroer, © Miller Johnson August 30, 2021
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Reminder: Deadline Approaches for COBRA Subsidy Final Notice

The COBRA subsidy period under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is nearing its end. Under ARPA, an assistance eligible individual (AEI), which is a COBRA qualified beneficiary who becomes eligible for COBRA due to a reduction in hours or involuntary termination of employment, may be eligible for a COBRA subsidy equal to the entire COBRA premium for the period from April 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2021.

Employers and plan administrators are required to provide subsidy termination notices to AEIs before their COBRA subsidy ends, sending the subsidy termination notices to AEIs no more than 45 days and no less than 15 days before the date that the COBRA subsidy will end for the individual.

For many individuals, this means that these notices must be sent between Aug. 16 and Sept. 15 to reflect the end of the COBRA subsidy period on Sept. 30, 2021.

The subsidy termination notices must include the following information:

  • A statement that the COBRA subsidy will end soon and "prominent identification" of the date that it will end.
  • A statement that the individual may be eligible for coverage without a COBRA subsidy through COBRA or another group health plan.

The notice is not required if the COBRA subsidy is terminated due to eligibility for another group health plan or Medicare.

Model Notice

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a model subsidy termination notice. Use of the model notice is not required, but the DOL considers its use as good faith compliance with the notice requirements under ARPA.

Conclusion

Employers that sponsor group health plans should continue to work closely with their third-party COBRA administrators to ensure compliance with ARPA, and the DOL and IRS guidance regarding the COBRA subsidies. 

While we don't typically recommend procrastinating, in this case employers may want to delay (but not past the Sept. 15 deadline) sending the subsidy termination notice to AEIs who will lose the subsidy on Sept. 30, 2021, in case Congress extends the subsidy period. However, we have not heard any rumors of an extension at this point.

Tripp VanderWal is an attorney with Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a member of the firm's employee benefits and executive compensation group and health care reform team. Brett N. Liefbroer is an attorney at the firm whose work primarily focuses on health plans, welfare plans and wellness programs.

Related SHRM Article:

IRS Issues New COBRA Subsidy Guidance as Deadlines Approach, SHRM Online, August 2021

[Want to learn more about compensation and benefits? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]


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