The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “ARPA”), was signed into law on March 11, 2021, and creates a temporary COBRA premium subsidy for certain qualifying individuals. This COBRA premium subsidy applies to all group health plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Thus, most employers will be impacted by the new COBRA subsidy.
Employers will need to evaluate the impact of the ARPA not only with respect to COBRA administration, but equally important, employers may need to make changes to their severance arrangements to take into account the temporary COBRA subsidy.
The ARPA provides that an assistance eligible individual who elects COBRA coverage will be deemed to have paid 100% of any applicable COBRA premium (including the 2% administrative charge) during the period April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021. In this respect, ARPA differs from the premium assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that only provided for a partial premium subsidy for eligible individuals.