The Employee Benefits Security Administration has released a batch of answers to questions about the new benefits continuation subsidy extension.
The extension, included in H.R. 3326, a defense appropriations bill that President Obama signed into law earlier this month, affects worker access to Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act health coverage continuation benefits.
Originally, departing workers could get COBRA continuation coverage only if they could pay 102% of the cost of the premiums. Earlier this year, Congress put a provision creating a temporary, 9-month COBRA continuation benefits subsidy in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The ARRA 9-month subsidy program was set to expire Dec. 31.
Now, eligible, involuntarily terminated workers and their dependents can apply for the 65% federal subsidy up until Feb. 28, 2010, and they can get the subsidy for up to 15 months.
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Individuals who ran out of COBRA subsidy benefits before Congress extended the benefit period to 15 months can get their coverage back by paying their 35% share of the premium costs by Feb. 17, 2010, or, if later, 30 days after notice of the extension is provided by their plan administrators, EBSA officials write.
Elsewhere in the guidance, EBSA officials write that: