Overview: Group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees are required to comply with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). In general, COBRA provides continuation of health care coverage for employees and their beneficiaries who would otherwise lose coverage due to certain qualifying events.
Group health plans are required to provide workers and their families with a notice of their COBRA rights and are also required to have procedures in place for how COBRA coverage is offered, how coverage can be elected and how coverage can be terminated. Even though COBRA has been around for over 25 years, its confusing and complex requirements still result in frequent errors.
Some of the more common errors include:
Trends: Despite certain rumors, COBRA was not eliminated as a result of health care reform. Partnering with a COBRA administrator can help employers be secure in the knowledge that their organization is in compliance.
Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
Recent guidance issued by the US Department of Labor states same-sex spouses are now eligible for the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex spouses under employee benefit plans and programs covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
Two new letters and a Quick Reference Chart have been developed to help employers comply with the complex requirements of COBRA.
Group health plans must offer continuation coverage under COBRA to qualified beneficiaries after a qualifying event has occurred. This chart provides a summary of qualifying events, qualified beneficiaries and the maximum periods of COBRA continuation coverage.
An employer may use this letter to notify COBRA participants that COBRA coverage will terminate due to expiration of the COBRA continuation coverage period.
An employer may use this letter to notify individuals on COBRA continuation coverage that coverage will terminate earlier than the end of the maximum coverage period of COBRA coverage applicable to a qualifying event.
XpertHR's Retail Resource Center for HR: Employee Benefits helps retail employers handle their most vexing employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
XpertHR's Transportation Resource Center for HR: Employee Benefits helps transportation industry employers handle their most vexing employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
XpertHR's High-Tech Resource Center for HR: Employee Benefits helps high-tech employers handle their most challenging employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
Multiple resources have been updated as a result of the Supreme Court's ruling striking down Section 3 of DOMA.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires group health plans to extend health insurance coverage to qualified beneficiaries who lose coverage due to certain qualifying events. This section assists HR professionals in learning who is a qualified beneficiary, what is a qualifying event, how long COBRA lasts, how much COBRA costs and COBRA notification requirements.
HR Guidance on complying with COBRA laws and regulations.