A little-known bonus hidden in the stimulus check is the COBRA health insurance. The government will pick up the entire tab of all health insurance costs for the next 6 months. The 100% subsidy ensures that more than 2 million Americans laid off after the economic downturn brought about by the pandemic can now have more healthcare options.
Though a temporary measure, it will ensure that the US government will pay the entire cost of the health care premium at the workplace for workers laid off by the pandemic. Paying the high cost of health insurance has proved to be almost impossible for most American families.
The COBRA Health Insurance Subsidy Complements The Benefits Of The Stimulus Check
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allows employees who leave a workplace with employees above 20 to keep their health insurance coverage for a year and a half. The COBRA premium increases for you, as a beneficiary, after you are laid off. It is because you end up also paying what your employer was paying for your health plans.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act, President Biden has ensured that the government will pick up the total tab for 6 months, for those who qualify for the stimulus check. Through an assistance credit, the government will compensate employers and insurance providers. That would be bigger support than the stimulus check even if it is for a limited period of 6 months.
You will not receive any individual notifications for the stimulus check till May end, as per the law. So you need not be concerned if you do not receive any notification. You can still expect the stimulus check to arrive for you.
COBRA administrators and employer groups are still working on the details of the plan. Co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles are still applicable though. This could mean that many Americans would still find it difficult to afford the option even with the support of the stimulus check.
The relief package under the pandemic relief subsidies also gives more support with retroactive effect from January 1 of this year. This will help lower deductibles and copayments for people getting unemployment benefits.
Many former employees are expected to go in for COBRA coverage. This will push up costs for many large employers who have health insurance plans that are self-funded. The subsidy is slated to end after September 30.
Making Sure You Get The COBRA Subsidy
Former employees are expected to get a detailed notice from their employers. The type of notice will depend on whether you are newly qualified, having become eligible after April 1, or before.
You need to inform your past employer if you are entitled but haven’t received any notice or the necessary forms. You can fill out the forms, available with the Department of Labor, on your own. And if you are already under the COBRA plan, you need to convert it to your plan administrator. And send the same to your ex-employer if you are signing up.
You need to retain a copy of the form with the date stamped. This will ensure that the process is speeded up by the employer and your insurance should be back on track immediately.
Who Qualifies For The Stimulus Check Coverage?
Employees who were laid off or were allowed reduced hours of work qualify for the support. But if you are under Medicare or other health benefits you do not get coverage under this scheme. You also are not entitled if you get a new job that gives health coverage, or you are eligible to be a part of your spouse’s health plan.
The government has also ensured the same temporary premium subsidies for dental and vision plans.
If you have discontinued COBRA coverage, since you could not afford the premiums, you now can enroll with retrospective effect. You will not have to bear the expense of back premiums.
You get 60 days to opt for COBRA if you receive a notice stating your eligibility. The premium assistance may end earlier than the cut date of September 30 if you have reached the maximum allowed continuation coverage of 18 months.
Keeping Records For Future Claims
If you cannot sign up immediately for the scheme, you need to preserve your receipts and medical records for future claims. If you finally qualify for the scheme, you can submit the claims for expenses after April 1 through September 30 and get a reimbursement.
You can also request your provider for extra time for the COBRA coverage to kick in before they bill their insurer.
Are You Eligible For Premium Coverage?
Many people are unaware of the COBRA health coverage as much as about the stimulus check. People affected by the pandemic should be made aware of the benefits.
What if you were laid off, but did not opt for COBRA for its high costs? There is a detailed notice under the law for both existing and new eligible individuals to get the opportunity to elect or renew coverage. The coverage must be offered during this subsidy period, even to those behind their COBRA payments.
Former employees eligible for the full subsidy are not to be charged any premiums within the period. But if they are charged, they should get the full refund through either the insurer or the employer within 60 days.
You can stay on in the COBRA insurance scheme after September 30 for the full period of 18 months. But you will have to pay the full insurance premium.