COBRA Benefits Extended

Yesterday President Obama signed the Defense Appropriations bill, which included a provision extending federal COBRA subsidies. Here’s how Phyllis Borzi, Assistant Secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration describes the provision:

The act extends the eligibility period for the ARRA premium reduction for an additional two months (through Feb. 28, 2010) and the maximum period for receiving the subsidy for an additional six months (from nine to 15 months). Millions of unemployed Americans and their families will be better able to afford and keep their health benefit coverage because of this new law.

Individuals who had reached the end of the reduced premium period before the legislation extended it to 15 months will have additional time to pay the reduced premiums related to the extension. To continue their coverage they must pay the 35% of premium costs by (60 days after date of enactment) or, if later, 30 days after notice of the extension is provided by their plan administrator.

We encourage you to subscribe to our COBRA Web site,, to get information on new notice requirements, updated guidance, fact sheets, and frequently asked questions as they become available.

Individuals should contact their plan or health insurance provider for information regarding the extension under their health plan. If you need further assistance contact an EBSA Benefits Advisor toll-free at 1-866-444-3272.

This is particularly good new for low-income Massachusetts unemployed workers, who can add the federal 65% COBRA to their Medical Security Program (MSP) benefit, reducing their cost to just 7% of the premium. The funding will also save some costs in the MSP program. Three weeks ago we reported that our HelpLine has already received several calls from folks shocked to see their COBRA bill triple from last month.

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10 Responses to COBRA Benefits Extended

  1. mike says:

    I was laid off but also beca$e disabled at the same time having not recovered from surgery at Mayo Clinic that left me permenantly diabled. The social security hearing for my case was applied for a year ago but there is no word on when it will be. My 18 months expires this month of May. If I get a successful hearing declaring me disabled then my cobra can be extended but if the hearing doesn’t happen buy that time because of the backlogs in my state what can I do? I must have insurance or I won’t be able to afford simple pain medications to barely survive the suffering of each day?

  2. denise says:


  3. Roger says:

    I live in Ma and have the same questions regarding Cobra coverage ending date of 4/2010.

    Is there any pending legislation to extend the 18 months?

  4. lj says:

    I have the same question and in doing some research, i found this information:

    my COBRA coverage is in NY, and it does appear that they have passed a law separate from the federal COBRA 18mo policy that extends benefits for 36mo. Can’t speak to all states, but it does look like some other states have done this as well. I’m very thankful for this. Suggest you do a search for “mini-COBRA” in your state and see if you are covered by this program.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  5. Kitty McGregor says:

    It seems to be impossible to find out if the COBRA coverage period goes beyone 18 months. The premium reduction coverage extension is great, but not so good when one’s 18 months are over.

    Is there any pending legislation to extend the 18 months?

  6. Harvey says:

    It doesn’t do much good to have a Cobra subsidy without Cobra coverage. My Cobra expired at the end of February.

    Cobra needs to be extended to 36 months.

    The alternative is no coverage due to my pre existing condition or insurance at outrageous rates–more than $1000 per month(not good if unemployed)

  7. Sylvia Kinsey says:

    same question…..will Cobra be extended beyond 18 months.

  8. Paul Raymond says:

    There are many like us who would pay the entire premiums for their COBRA group plans if they could, beyond the 18 months. As high as they are, the alternative of no insurance would be catastrophic, especially if one has a pre-existing condition. I have been writing to President Obama and to my Senators and Congressman, urging them to enact an extension, without govt. subsidy, NOW, before it is too late. Charles B. Rangel is Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and it would be worth writing to him as well. If they hear from enough people threatened with losing all their coverage, they may act.

  9. My Cobra benefits will end June 2010. would also like to know if Cobra will be extended beyond 18 months.

  10. Elizabeth Goetz says:

    My COBRA benefits will end April 2010. Any chance that COBRA will be extended beyond 18 months for an employee?

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