Illustration for article titled How to Qualify for 100% COBRA Subsidized RewardsPhoto: ldutko (Shutterstock)

As part of an expanded COBRA program, President Biden’s COVID Aid Act includes a temporary healthcare grant that covers 100% of your premiums if you were laid off or worked fewer hours during the pandemic. The coverage lasts from April 1 to September 30, 2021 and is also available to people who are already participating in the program. Here’s how you can qualify.

What is COBRA?

With COBRA or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, you can stay with your company’s health insurance for up to 18 months, if the company has one 20 or more employees (Depending on the case, this can be extended for a further 18 months specific qualification events). You qualify if you have been laid off, have fewer hours, or even been laid off unless the termination was due to gross misconduct (i.e. vaguely defined– Some employers will ignore this and offer COBRA coverage just to evade the courts.

Sounds good, right? There is a catch, however. While you can keep your employer’s insurance under COBRA, you still have to pay the monthly premiums yourself. Employers often cover that 80% of your premiumsThat’s a high price– –averaging $ 7,470 per year for individuals and $ 21,342 for family insurance, on average according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

COBRA also does not cover other employer policies such as life or disability insurance, which also adds to your costs. In the absence of any subsidy, like other options Medicaid or Obamacare might be preferable.

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Illustration for article titled How to Qualify for 100% COBRA Subsidized Rewards

Who is eligible for the extended COBRA grant?

Via cnbcThe 100% premium subsidy applies to everyone who already qualifies for COBRA. It is also available to employees who did not opt ​​for COBRA coverage during their original term, as well as employees who originally chose COBRA but are lapsing their coverage. However, those who are eligible for other group insurance or Medicare are not eligible for the grant.

That means pretty much anyone who lost their job at the start of the pandemic can qualify, as their 18-month COBRA period spans April 1 to September 30, 2021, when the subsidy ends.

Starting April 1, employers may also offer you one special registration period of 90 days sign up for a different group health plan, although the premiums cannot be more than what you have already paid. This is an optional policy for employers. You should therefore check with your previous employer to see if this is offered.

How do I get the grant?

Your employer or your health insurance company should send you a declaration of eligibility. If you were expecting one but haven’t received it yet, contact your company’s HR department or your health insurer directly. However, as soon as you have been informed that you are eligible for COBRA, you will need to register within 60 days.