In early May 2014 the current administration published proposed rules to require employers to alter COBRA notification to employees. Currently COBRA notification must be given to any employee covered by a group health insurance policy the day before a “qualifying” event. This notification must be sent to the employee or beneficiary within 14 days of the qualifying event and it tells the employee what they must do and the cost of the continuation. This is usually and eye opening event and for many people the first indication how much their insurance actually costs.
COBRA notice new language
In the proposed rules employers are now going to have to tell the covered employee or beneficiary that one option they have to COBRA is the Affordable Care Act. All though the open enrollment period for 2014 is closed according to the attorneys at the HealthLawGurus “the ACA provides for special enrollment periods for individuals experiencing certain life events, like the loss of a job.” An explanation of these special periods may be found here.
The proposed new notice is meant to inform the eligible employees and beneficiaries that alternative healthcare that is more affordable than the cost of COBRA coverage may be available through Healthcare.gov. Additionally, according to HealthLawGurus, “the model notice also informs qualified beneficiaries that they may be eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions that may make purchasing an ACA health insurance plan more affordable than COBRA coverage.” You can read the USDOL’s notice about the proposed rules here.
Many of you may have your TPA or insurance company taking care of your COBRA notifications. If you don’t I suggest you pay attention to these new rules. They will only be proposed for a short while before they become reality.