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Snags in accessing the new COBRA subsidy could mean some unemployed Americans will miss out

If you rely on COBRA for health coverage, you may be thrilled by this latest news: To help the millions who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, the government announced that it will cover the total cost of COBRA for 6 months. Coverage began April 1. 

Sounds great, right? Well, getting the subsidy may not be as simple as it sounds. 

To get the subsidy, you have to go through your insurance company. As CNBC reports, many companies are still waiting on the government to provide the tools they need. This means you may not be able to access the subsidy right away. 

And while the subsidy went into effect on April 1, employers have until May 31 to let you know whether or not you qualify. 

“It’s available for such a short period of time, and you don’t even learn about it until May 31?” Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy told CNBC. “A lot of people may miss out on the opportunity.”

So, what should you do if you qualify for the subsidy, but your insurance company says it can’t offer it yet?

Save your paperwork and receipts for any health services you get after April 1. Once you get written notice that you qualify for the subsidy, contact your insurance company to determine if you can get reimbursed.

Who qualifies for the subsidy?

You may qualify for this new COBRA subsidy if you lost your job or had your hours cut before April 1, 2021, and either:

  • Didn’t ask for COBRA coverage at the time, or
  • Opted for COBRA before April 1, 2021, but stopped coverage before that date.

Full coverage may apply to you, your spouse, and eligible children. 

Learn more about the subsidy here. If you don’t hear about it from your previous employer by May 31, reach out to them and/or your insurance company.

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