As originally enacted as part of the 2009 stimulus package, the COBRA subsidy provided up to nine months of health insurance premium assistance for covered workers who were involuntarily terminated on or before December 31, 2009.  Last week, President Obama signed a bill that extends the COBRA subsidy for involuntarily terminated employees in two ways:  First, it extends the eligibility period to provide assistance to workers who were involuntarily terminated on or before February 28, 2010; second, it provides up to 15 months of insurance premium assistance. 

Employers should, as soon as possible but in any case no later than February 21, 2010, provide notices to all former employees who may be affected by the extension informing them of their rights.  Employers should also update the COBRA subsidy information they are currently providing to employees upon termination to ensure that it accurately reflects the eligibility period.  

Want to know more?  For more information on the COBRA subsidy in general, read Stoel Rives’ COBRA Subsidy Alert from earlier this year (but ignore the out-of-date eligibility dates).  You can also click here to read the IRS’ COBRA subsidy information page, with answers to frequently asked questions.