COBRA Continuation Coverage: Have You Updated Your COBRA Election Notices Yet?

On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) released changes to the COBRA Model Election Notice. The new model notice will inform “qualified beneficiaries” about the PPACA’s establishment of government-run health care exchanges. Open enrollment for the exchanges should begin by October 2013, but health-coverage will not be provided through the exchanges until January 1, 2014.

The updated notice provides qualified beneficiaries information on the government-run exchanges, information on the possibility of being eligible for a premium tax credit through the exchange, and information on the convenience of the exchanges, which should allow users to view premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses before they decide whether to enroll in a health insurance plan. The notice also will inform qualified beneficiaries that if they request enrollment in 30 days, they may be eligible to enroll in a spouse’s group health plan through a special enrolment period, even if the spouse’s plan does not accept late enrollees.

Employers that have not yet updated their model notices should do so as soon as possible.  One benefit for employers is that some former employees may elect to obtain coverage through the exchanges in lieu of electing COBRA from the employer.

A copy of the new model notice can be found here.

Additional guidance by the DOL on complying with COBRA’s notice requirements can be found here.

About Jim Hamilton

I am an employee benefits partner with Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. My broad-based practice covers health and welfare arrangements, insurance, executive compensation and federal and state taxation. Among other areas, I have specific experience with PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, ERISA and numerous other state and federal laws affecting employee benefit plans.
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