Employers Must Notify Former Employees of COBRA Eligibility by Saturday
Employers by Saturday must send notices to laid-off workers who qualify for the federal COBRA subsidy telling them how much the coverage will cost after the subsidy, a Department of Labor official said Thursday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 4/17). Under the federal economic stimulus package, workers involuntarily terminated between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, whose annual incomes do not exceed $125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for families qualify for subsidies to cover 65% of the cost of premiums under COBRA for as long as nine months (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 4/8). The federal COBRA subsidy applies only to former employees of companies with more than 20 workers.
States have had the option of passing "mini-COBRA" laws extending the subsidies to employees of companies with 20 or fewer employees (Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/17). According to Families USA, 30 states have enacted mini-COBRA laws, while 16 others have either filed to enact such measures or passed laws that last for less than nine months. Kathleen Stoll, deputy executive director of Families USA, and Cheryl Fish-Parcham, deputy director of health policy at the organization, said that in addition to enacting stronger mini-COBRA laws, states could require small group insurers to allow workers another opportunity to enroll (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/16).