DOL Releases New Model COBRA Notices and Proposes Rulemaking

Volume 13, Issue 6
May 14, 2014

Putting the proverbial cart before the horse, on May 2, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) posted two new model notices for informing workers of their eligibility to continue healthcare coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The new model COBRA notices inform 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. Several days later, on May 7, 2014, the DOL published the necessary Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to make such changes official.

Until the appropriate rulemaking process is finalized, use of the already-released, but still unofficial, Model COBRA Continuation Coverage General Notice and Model COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice will be deemed by the DOL as good faith compliance with COBRA's notice requirements, if appropriately filled out.

The DOL also published two sets of FAQs related to the proposed model COBRA notices, the second of which was prepared jointly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. See DOL FAQs and Joint FAQs. In addition, HHS has published a clarifying bulletin regarding a special enrollment period in the Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals already enrolled in COBRA continuation coverage.

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