HR Support on COBRA Continuation of Employee Health Coverage

Editor's Note: Complex COBRA requirements still result in frequent errors.

Tracy MorleyOverview: 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:

  • Failure to satisfy the COBRA general notice requirements;
  • Not having current language in COBRA notices; and
  • Lack of appropriate documentation that the required notices have been provided.

Trends: In light of the US Supreme Court's decision striking down section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), employers must extend COBRA coverage to an employee's same-sex spouse if the couple lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. The number of states that recognize same-sex marriage is continuing to grow, with rulings addressing the legality of same-sex marriage pending in several states.

Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor

Latest items in COBRA

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    Type:
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    Updated to reflect additional health insurance Marketplace information that may be included with an election notice.

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    Type:
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    This How To maps out the steps an employer should follow in order to properly pay an employee who has separated, or has been involuntary terminated, from employment.

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    Type:
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    Type:
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    Qualified beneficiaries must receive a Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) election notice within 44 days of a qualifying event.

  • Date:
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    Type:
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  • Health Care Continuation Coverage (Mini-COBRA) Laws by State

    Type:
    Quick Reference

    This chart helps employers understand each state's health care continuation coverage requirements. These so-called "mini-COBRA" laws cover smaller employers or may otherwise provide greater rights than the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

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    Type:
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    In-depth review of the spectrum of Oregon employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to health care continuation (COBRA).

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    Type:
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  • Employee Termination Letter

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    An employer may use this letter as a template to create an official termination letter for an exiting employee to memorialize the end of the employment relationship. This letter should only be sent to an exiting employee when a final, official decision to terminate the employee has been made.

  • California Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (CalCOBRA) Notice and Election Form

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    As mandated by the State of California, Department of Insurance (DIC) and the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), all employers with between two and 19 full-time employees are required to provide this California Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (CalCOBRA) Notice and Election Form.