This post, if you lost your job recently, you’re eligible for 6 months of free health insurance , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
If you lost your job in the last 18 months, you can now remain on your employer-sponsored health insurance for free through September 30, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law last month.
Typically when you lose your job, you’re eligible to continue on your employer’s health care plan through a federal law called COBRA, as long as your employer had at least 20 full- or part-time employees during the previous year. That coverage lasts for up to 18 months (but can be extended to 29 months for people with disabilities). But it’s often unaffordable for many unemployed people, because you have to pay the full cost of the monthly insurance premiums yourself. That can be a ton of money; it averages around $600/month and is even higher for many people.
This new law allows you to use COBRA coverage at no cost to you. The federal government will pay for it.
* To be eligible, you must have involuntarily lost your job (been fired or laid off) for any reason other than “gross misconduct” or have lost your insurance due to a reduction in work hours. You also must be within the 18-month COBRA eligibility period (meaning it’s been less than 18 months since you lost your job).
* If you are eligible for assistance but haven’t already elected COBRA coverage, or if you’d previously declined or discontinued it, you can sign up during a special enrollment period that begins today and ends 60 days after the date when your COBRA notification was delivered (something your previous employer should be sending to you). For example, if you were laid off in November and didn’t sign up for COBRA because it was too expensive, you can enroll now that it’s free to you — as long as you do it within 60 days of being notified of this new subsidy.
* If you sign up, the government will pay 100% of your premium costs between now and September 30. You will still be responsbible for any co-pays and deductibles.
* This applies to any family members who were on your plan as well.
* Usually with COBRA, if you don’t enroll right away and then decide to do later on, you have to go back and pay premiums for the months you missed because you’re not allowed to have a gap in coverage. This law temporarily suspends that rule; you will not have to pay the missing premiums (but you’ll also only be covered for insurance claims starting on the date of your enrollment).
* Your eligibility ends once you’re eligible for other group health plan coverage (such as when you get a new job) or when your maximum COBRA period expires.
* Employers will be responsible for continuing to pay your premiums, and then will be reimbursed by the government through a payroll tax credit.
This content was originally published here.