Apr 27 2021
Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh!
Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda! What are we talking about today?
DeMatteis: Today, we’re back to the COVID-19 crisis and what the federal government is doing to help those who need it most. Last month, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act. A number of different components of it – direct payments to families, funding to communities who need it most, vaccination funding – all things that have become critical to us at this point in life. But one particular focus point on this that I thought we should cover today is how this impacts employment law and, specifically, employees in Connecticut who may need health insurance. Why don’t you tell us about that?
Goodbaum: Many Connecticut employees are going to be familiar with a federal law called COBRA. It’s a law that allows employees who separate from their employers to stay on their employer-sponsored health insurance. The tricky thing about COBRA is that the cost of that health insurance needs to be borne entirely by the former employee. So, generally, when people are working, they are sharing the cost of health insurance with their employer. Under COBRA, the former employee needs to pay the whole cost of the health insurance, which can be very daunting for a lot of people, particularly when they’ve lost their jobs. The great thing about the American Rescue Plan Act is that it fully subsidizes COBRA from April 1st through September 30th, 2021. So, for anyone who is eligible for COBRA, with some exceptions I’ll get to, they can have that COBRA health insurance extension free of charge. It applies to everyone who has lost health insurance coverage as a result of an employment separation who was terminated, not who resigned, and who was terminated other than for gross misconduct. People can sign up even if they missed the original COBRA sign-up window, which is 60 days after the notification, so long as they’re still within the eligibility window, which under federal law is 18 months and under Connecticut law is 30 months. So, if you are an employee who separated from your employer in the last 18 months under federal law, and you don’t have health insurance right now – employer-sponsored health insurance – you should contact your employer and contact the health insurance company you had when you were with that employer because you can get health insurance coverage basically for free for a period of months. And that’s a benefit that the federal government is providing as we try to bounce back from the COVID pandemic.
DeMatteis: This is critical information and something that people need to know because this is immediate relief for you. This is free health insurance for a period of six months. Pay attention to this stuff. We really hope that this was helpful and it provides you with a much-needed benefit at a particularly tough time. So, thank you guys so much for watching. We’ll see you next time. Take care.
Goodbaum: Thanks, everybody!