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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses - Health Benefits Advisor for Employers

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

Does your group health planís SPD include a description of the rights and obligations of participants and beneficiaries with respect to COBRA coverage, including, among other things, information concerning qualifying events and qualified beneficiaries, premiums, notice and election requirements and procedures, and duration of coverage?

Summary Plan Description

Your group health planís summary plan description (SPD) must include a description of the rights and obligations of participants and beneficiaries with respect to COBRA coverage, including, among other things, information concerning qualifying events and qualified beneficiaries, premiums, notice and election requirements and procedures, and duration of coverage.

The SPD is a written document that gives important information about the plan, the benefits that are available under the plan, the rights of participants and beneficiaries under the plan and how the plan works.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a federal law governing employer-provided group health plans, requires the following:

  • Plan administrators must give each participant a SPD within 90 days after he or she first becomes a participant in a plan (or within 120 days after the plan is first subject to the reporting and disclosure provisions of ERISA).
  • If there are material changes to the plan, the plan administrator must give participants a summary of material modifications (SMM) not later than 210 days after the end of the plan year in which the changes become effective. If the change is a material reduction in covered services or benefits, the SMM generally must be furnished not later than 60 days after the reduction is adopted.
  • A participant or beneficiary covered under the plan may request at any time a copy of the SPD and any SMMs, which must be provided within 30 days of a written request.