Several weeks after the COBRA subsidy extension, the DOL has just released new model COBRA notices for employers to use, which can be accessed here. There are three new model notices in total: the Updated General Notice, the Premium Assistance Extension Notice and the Updated Alternative Notice.
The Updated General Notice:
- Includes updated information on the subsidy and information required in a COBRA election notice.
- Must be provided to all qualified beneficiaries, not just covered employees, who have not been provided an election notice and who experience a qualifying event between September 1, 2008 through February 28, 2010, regardless of the type of qualifying event.
- Must be provided to individuals who experienced a qualifying event that was a termination of employment in December 2009 and who were not eligible for COBRA until January 2010. As these individuals were likely not provided proper notice, in addition to receiving the Updated General Notice, they must also be given a full 60 days from the date the updated notice is provided to make a COBRA election.
Premium Assistance Election Notice:
- Includes information about the Department of Defense Appropriation Act of 2010′s (DODAA) amendments to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
- Requires plan administrators to provide this notice to certain individuals who have already been provided a COBRA election notice, but were provided with one that did not include information regarding the DODAA’s amendments to the ARRA.
- This notice must be provided to individuals who were “assistance eligible” as of October 31, 2009 (unless they are in a transition period as set forth below), and individuals who experienced a termination of employment on or after October 31, 2009 and lost health coverage (unless they were already provided a timely, updated General Notice). Such notice must be provided by February 17, 2010.
- Individuals who are in a “transition period” must be given this notice within 60 days of the first day of the transition period. A “transition period” is defined as the period that begins immediately after the end of the maximum number of months (generally nine) of premium reduction available under the ARRA before it was amended. An individual is in a transition period only if the premium reduction provisions would continue to apply due to the extension from nine to 15 months and they otherwise remain eligible for the premium reduction.
- Special note: To some extent, there is overlap with regard to individuals who are “assistance eligible” and who are in a “transition period.” This creates a situation where an individual may be entitled to multiple notices. Providing the Premium Assistance Extension Notice by the earliest date required will satisfy the notice requirement(s).
Updated Alternative Notice:
- Insurance issuers providing group health insurance must send the Updated Alternative to persons who became eligible for continuation coverage under a state law.