I lost my job and health benefits. I’d like to continue coverage under my group plan through COBRA but am worried I won’t be able to afford it. Is there any help for me?

Yes.  The American Rescue Plan provides for new, temporary COBRA premium subsidies for people who lost their jobs or had their hours cut so they no longer qualify for group health benefits. 

The law provides for a 100% premium subsidy for COBRA for up to 6 months.  The first subsidy-eligible month is April 2021 and the last subsidy-eligible month is September 2021.  Employers will pay the COBRA premium for subsidy-eligible individuals and be reimbursed by the federal government.

People who were laid off before the new law passed can also receive COBRA subsidies.  People who did not elect COBRA when they first lost their job may still be eligible to elect it.  During the national COVID emergency, the time people have to elect COBRA has been extended by up to one year.   In addition, people who elected COBRA earlier but then dropped it (for example, because they couldn’t afford the premium) are also eligible to resume COBRA coverage with the new premium subsidy. 

To obtain the COBRA subsidy, contact your former employer or COBRA plan administrator.  They will pay your premium during your subsidy-eligible months and be reimbursed by the federal government.

Federal agencies are working to implement the new law, including development of model notices that employers are required to provide.  Soon you should receive a notice from your former employer about the new COBRA subsidy.

While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the health insurance Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.