The End of a (Short) Era: ARPA COBRA Subsidies and the Remaining Action Item for Plan Sponsors
Under one of ARPA’s most impactful provisions, employees who were involuntarily terminated or had their hours reduced (and who met certain other criteria) became eligible for fully subsidized COBRA coverage from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. This led to a bit of a scramble for plan sponsors, COBRA administrators, insurers (and their counsel!) to understand the new law’s many nuances and properly inform outgoing (and some already exited) employees of their ARPA rights in a timely manner.
Now, with the September 30 end date approaching, there is one final action item. Under ARPA, those assistance eligible individuals (or AEIs) receiving subsidized coverage must be sent notice of the end of their subsidy no less than 15 days and no more than 45 days in advance. The Department of Labor has provided a sample Notice of Expiration of Period of Premium Assistance.
While this requirement has applied all along (for example, to any AEI whose maximum COBRA coverage period ended this summer), these notices must be sent to the vast majority of the AEIs between August 16 and September 15 to reflect the end of the COBRA subsidy period generally on September 30, 2021.
After an unprecedented 18 months – and with a lot of moving pieces involved in all of the benefits and work-place related COVID-19 relief guidance – it would be easy to let this one fall through the cracks. This post serves as a friendly reminder to plan sponsors to check in with their COBRA administrators (or their internal team, if they self-administer COBRA) to ensure the ball is rolling on these additional required notices.