On Friday, May 2, 2014, the Department of Labor (DOL) released proposed changes to the COBRA regulations relating to the model general notice and model election notice. In conjunction with those changes, DOL posted new model general and election notices to its website. Ceridian has completed the process of incorporating effectively all of the revised content into our notices and will begin using the updated versions on or about Aug. 15, 2014.  

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Changes to COBRA Model Notices

May 7, 2014

Updated July 29, 2014: Ceridian has completed the process of incorporating effectively all of the revised content into our notices and will begin using the updated versions on or about Aug. 15, 2014.

On Friday, May 2, 2014, the Department of Labor (DOL) released proposed changes to the COBRA regulations relating to the model general notice and model election notice. In conjunction with those changes, DOL posted new model general and election notices to its website.

The changes relate mostly to two areas:

  • New content about the availability of state health insurance exchanges (or Marketplaces). The content provides an additional level of detail on top of the changes to the model general notice published last year, which Ceridian implemented in October 2013.
  • Updates to the sections describing basic COBRA rules that make them more easily understood. There are no substantive changes to existing COBRA rules or processes.

Employers should be aware that these model notices are not required to be used in COBRA processing. They represent a best-practice approach, one which Ceridian has adopted as an element of our standard COBRA Services. Further, these new model notices are included among proposed regulations, which do not have the legal impact of their final versions. Finally, no effective date is associated with the new model notices, a fact that presumably reflects the understanding of DOL (which oversees COBRA compliance at the federal level) that employers need a reasonable length of time to implement changes to their processes. In short, employers should not conclude that these changes need to be implemented immediately.

These changes replace the changes to the model COBRA election notice that Ceridian made in October 2013 in response to DOL guidance earlier that year.

Also on May 2, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a separate piece of guidance that applies to the federally facilitated health insurance exchanges (or Marketplaces), but not directly to exchanges operated by the states. Under this guidance, certain individuals who are currently receiving or eligible for coverage under COBRA will be allowed to enroll in Marketplace coverage until July 1, 2014, even if their enrollment windows are already closed. Note that this special enrollment period has ended.

The guidance does not impose notice or other requirements for the employer sponsoring the COBRA coverage, and the new DOL model notices do not include content about this special enrollment period. COBRA participants are able to cancel their coverage on a prospective basis by simply stopping payment. Ceridian will direct callers with questions about these issues to the Marketplace call center (800-318-2596), as the guidance instructs.