The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an updated Model COBRA Election Notice forms for employers to use in providing information to beneficiaries about options to enroll in Marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Qualified individuals who lose group health plan coverage, due to the occurrence of a termination from employment or other qualifying event, now will be able to choose whether to continue the coverage through COBRA, or enroll in Marketplace coverage under the ACA. An employer’s use of the New Model Notices, properly completed, will be deemed to be good faith compliance with the notice content requirements of COBRA. The new notices are available on the DOL website, and are also attached here for your convenience.
The purpose behind the New Model Notices is to provide individuals who become entitled to COBRA with information to consider other options before electing COBRA coverage, and the potential advantages of Marketplace coverage. There are, however, many issues to be considered by qualified individuals who need to make the decision as to whether to elect COBRA coverage or to obtain coverage in the Marketplace. The DOL provides additional guidance on COBRA on this fact sheet.
Employers should adopt these notices, and should consider amending other materials addressing the company health plan and COBRA, such as employee handbooks, company policy manuals and summary plan descriptions, in order to provide further information to employees. If you would like assistance on how to use these notices or amend company policies or to further communicate with employees about their options in the Marketplace, please contact Matt Stokely in the Labor Department at Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling.
AND ONE MORE THING. In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court has held that, as applied to closely-held corporations, regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that contained the so-called “contraceptive mandate” violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Under the regulations at issue, specified employer group health plans were required to make certain types of contraception, including four types that the corporations’ owners objected to for religious reasons, available to their female employees at no cost. If you want to discuss this in more detail, please contact Matt Stokely at 937-223-1130 or Mstokely@pselaw.com