On April 15, 2010, the COBRA subsidy program was extended for a third time. The COBRA subsidy eligibility period, which previously expired on March 31, 2010, has been extended through May 31, 2010. Individuals who experienced a termination of employment from April 1, 2010 through April 14, 2010 may be retroactively entitled to premium subsidy rights.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has again updated its model COBRA notices to reflect these most recent changes to the COBRA subsidy program. The revised notices, and who should receive them, are described below:
- Model General Notice. The Model General Notice has been updated to reflect the recent extension. This notice is for qualified beneficiaries who experienced any qualifying event (regardless of type) at any time from September 1, 2008 through May 31, 2010 and who have not yet been provided an election notice.
Please note that individuals who experienced a termination of employment on or after April 1, 2010 and before April 15, 2010 and who already received a general notice that did not reflect the recent extension do not need to receive another general notice. Instead, these individuals should receive either a Model Supplemental Information Notice or a Model Notice of Extended Election Period, as appropriate, which are described below.
- Model Supplemental Information Notice. This notice should be provided to individuals who are receiving COBRA coverage and either:
- Experienced a termination of employment from March 1, 2010 through April 14, 2010 but did not receive notice of the recent extensions of the COBRA subsidy program; or
- Experienced a reduction in hours on or after September 1, 2008 and subsequently experience a termination of employment on or after March 2, 2010 and before May 31, 2010.
- Model Notice of Extended Election Period. This notice is intended for individuals who experienced a termination of employment on or after April 1, 2010 and before April 15, 2010, had already received a general notice that did not reflect the recent extension and have not yet elected COBRA coverage.
- Model Notice of New Election Period. This notice is for individuals who are not currently enrolled in COBRA who previously experienced a qualifying event that was a reduction in hours between September 1, 2008 and May 31, 2010 and who subsequently experienced a termination of employment between March 2, 2010 and May 31, 2010.
Plan sponsors are not required to use the DOL model notices. If a plan sponsor does not use the model notices, the plan sponsor must revise its COBRA notices to reflect the extension of the COBRA subsidy program and ensure that the groups identified above receive the appropriate, updated materials.