On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the most recent COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This COVID-19 relief package covers a wide range of issues and includes new COBRA continuation coverage election, notice, and premium assistance requirements.
New COBRA continuation of coverage details
The premium assistance will be 100% of the total cost of federal and/or state COBRA continuation health coverage and will be available for eligible individuals starting April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. ARPA provides for an extended COBRA election period and requires the COBRA administrators (typically a third-party administrator (TPA) chosen by an employer group health plan sponsor or, in the case of a multi-employer plan, a multi-employer trust) to:
- Issue notices to eligible individuals describing the premium assistance
- Issue extended COBRA election notices
- Must provide a notice of expiration before the premium assistance expires
ARPA tax credit
In most cases, the premium for eligible individuals will be funded through a payroll tax credit against employers’ quarterly taxes. The premium tax credit is payable to the employer maintaining the group health plan, or to the plan itself for multi-employer plans.
Kaiser Permanente is seeking additional information on the circumstances in which the tax credit is payable to Kaiser Permanente, e.g. when the group health plans are small employers with under 20 employees or similar situations where Kaiser administers the COBRA benefit on a very limited basis.
Customers should seek advice from their tax accountant, attorney, consultant or broker to determine their eligibility for this tax credit.
Kaiser Permanente is currently reviewing all aspects of ARPA and will process COBRA elections consistent with the requirements of this new law.
Help your client’s employees understand COBRA changes and how to stay covered
If your client’s employees have questions about changes to COBRA or need help staying covered, they can:
- Use Kaiser Permanente's Continuing Coverage online tool at kp.org/exploreoptions
- Call 1-800-270-4095 (TTY 711) for one-on-one support from a Kaiser Permanente health care specialist
- Attend one of Kaiser Permanente's weekly 30-minute webinars which includes a short, recorded presentation followed by live chat with an advisor
For questions, please contact your B&P Sales Rep – 888.722.3373.