Benefit News

DOL Releases Model Subsidy Notices and Other Related Guidance

April 07, 2021

As most of you may be aware, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides a 100% subsidy of COBRA premiums from April 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021 (this includes medical, dental and vision coverages). The subsidy is available to employees and their family members who lost health insurance due to an involuntary termination or a reduction in hours (but not in the event of a voluntary termination of employment, retirement or death).

This morning, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) released anxiously awaited guidance to assist employers, COBRA administrators, and health care insurers in complying with ARPA’s subsidy requirements.

Model Notices

  • General Notice and Election Notice can be viewed here. This Notice is to be provided no later than May 31, 2021 to qualified beneficiaries who incur a COBRA event between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021 that would qualify them for a subsidy.
  • Notice in Connection with Extended Election Period can be viewed here. This Notice is to be provided by May 31, 2021 to the following groups of qualified beneficiaries who incurred a subsidy qualifying event:
    • Those who experienced a qualifying event prior to April 1, 2021, but who had existing COBRA on April 1, 2021;
    • Those who experienced a qualifying event prior to April 1, 2021 and are still within the COBRA continuation period despite not having elected COBRA when the triggering event first occurred; and
    • Those who elected COBRA but discontinued COBRA coverage before April 1, 2021 and are still in the COBRA continuation period as of April 1, 2021.
  • Alternative Notice can be viewed here. This Notice is to be used with respect to fully insured plans that are not subject to Federal COBRA but are subject to state continuation coverage requirements.
  • Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance can be viewed here. This Notice must be provided between 15-45 days prior to the expiration of the subsidy period.

Any COBRA continuation coverage elected by an eligible individual is a prospective election and coverage will start with the first period of coverage beginning on or after April 1, 2021. However, coverage will not extend beyond the maximum continuation period for the triggering event.

We recommend that employers and COBRA administrators adopt the language in the model notices as-is.

Additional Guidance

The following information was also released:

  • COBRA Premium Subsidy dedicated page can be viewed here;
  • FAQs can be viewed here, and
  • Summary of the COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions can be viewed here.

For additional information, please contact your Burnham Consultant or Burnham, A Baldwin Risk Partner at 949‐833‐2983 or

Burnham Benefits does not engage in the practice of law and this publication should not be construed as the providing of legal advice or a legal opinion of any kind. The consulting advice we provide is intended solely to assist in assessing its compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and other applicable federal and state law requirements, and is based on Burnham Benefit’s interpretation of federal guidance in effect as of the date of this publication. To the best of our knowledge, the information provided herein, and assumptions relied on, are reasonable and accurate as of the date of this publication. Furthermore, to ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any tax advice contained in this publication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of (i) avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter.

Back to Updates