U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Model COBRA Notices and Extends COBRA Deadlines
U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Model COBRA Notices and Extends COBRA Deadlines

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued new model COBRA Notices primarily to highlight that an individual may enroll in Medicare instead of COBRA continuation coverage after his or her group health plan coverage ends. The new COBRA model notices point out that it may be advantageous to enroll in Medicare before, or instead of, electing COBRA. They also explain that if an individual is eligible for both COBRA and Medicare, electing COBRA coverage may impact enrollment into Medicare as well as certain costs to the individual. 

The model general notice for single-employer group health plans is found here, and this model notice in Spanish is found here.  The model election notice for single-employer group health plans is found here, while the Spanish version is found here.

Additionally, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the DOL, along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), issued a joint announcement which extends certain participant deadlines affecting an individual’s right to continue group health plan coverage under COBRA after employment ends. The joint announcement may be found here. Although not specifically required, it is advisable to include notice of the extensions when providing COBRA election notices and other COBRA notices.  Employers should be aware that the joint announcement does not specifically allow employers extended time to send COBRA notices to terminating employees. Thus, employers should therefore continue to send COBRA notices to terminating employees based on the usual time frames. 

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Joanne Warriner.

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