COBRA Notice Changes

COBRA notice requirements have been issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), along with updates to COBRA model notices, clarifying to workers that, if they are eligible for COBRA continuation upon leaving a job, they may, instead, purchase coverage via the Health Insurance Marketplace. The proposed regulations better align COBRA’s notice requirements with requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions already in effect.

The regulations include updates to model notices informing workers of their eligibility to continue health care coverage through COBRA. The updates make it clear to workers that if they are eligible for COBRA continuation coverage when leaving a job, they may choose to instead purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace).

The model notices offer information on more affordable options available through the Marketplace, where workers and families may be eligible for financial assistance that would not otherwise be available for COBRA continuation coverage. In most cases, workers and their families eligible for, but not enrolled in, COBRA continuation coverage would be able to enroll in Marketplace coverage outside the normal open enrollment period, during a special enrollment period, or SEP.

Model notices.

The DOL has issued model notices that plans may use to satisfy the requirement to provide the general notice and election notice under COBRA. The updated model notices are posted on the DOL’s website at

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/medelelectionnotice.doc
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/modelgeneralnotice.doc

The DOL will consider use of the model notices, appropriately completed, to be good faith compliance with the notice content requirements of COBRA. The DOL notes that the use of the model notices is not required. The model notices are provided solely for the purpose of facilitating compliance with the applicable notice requirements.

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