New COBRA Notice Form Issued by DOL

Employers are reminded that the Federal Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued new model COBRA election notices for single employer health plans aligned with Patient Protection Affordability Care Act (“PPACA”) requirements. Under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), employees who experience a qualifying event, such as a loss of employment, are able to continue coverage under the employer’s group health plan for themselves and qualified beneficiaries by paying the COBRA premium. The new model notices are available on the DOL website in both English and Spanish.

The major changes reflected in the new notices include the options to purchase coverage through the federal exchanges called the Marketplace and the elimination of pre-existing condition limitations, which are prohibited under PPACA starting January 1, 2014 for adults. There has been no change to an employer’s obligation to notify the plan administrator within 30 days after the qualifying event and the plan administrator’s subsequent obligation to send the notice to the employee and qualifying beneficiaries within 14 days of the qualifying event. Nor has there been a change to the requirement that an employee who is eligible for health benefits continuation through COBRA elect coverage within 60 days of receiving the notice.

For more information regarding COBRA compliance, including the COBRA notice, please contact an attorney in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department.

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