EBSA News Release: [03/19/2009]
Contact Name: Gloria Della
Phone Number: (202) 693-8664
Release Number: 09-0292-NAT
U.S. Labor Department releases model notices for COBRA subsidy under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Labor today released four model notice packages that will enable group health plans and employers to provide notice on the availability of premium reductions and additional election opportunities under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law by President Obama on Feb.17, 2009, made available a premium reduction and the additional election period as part of the administration's stimulus package.
"Our action today gives workers and their families useful information on their right to receive the COBRA subsidy and makes it easier for employers and plans to meet their notice obligations. Given the current economic situation facing dislocated workers and their families, it is very important that individuals do not lose their group health coverage," said Alan D. Lebowitz, deputy assistant secretary of labor for the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).
The department has developed four notice packages tailored to fit different types of plans and individuals:
- A general notice to be given to qualified beneficiaries covered by plans subject to the federal COBRA at the initial COBRA election opportunity.
- An abbreviated general notice, which may be furnished to individuals who elected and are still covered by COBRA.
- An alternative notice to be sent by issuers of group health insurance coverage subject to state continuation coverage laws.
- A notice of extended election periods for eligible individuals who declined or discontinued COBRA coverage.
Each package contains a summary of the premium reduction provisions, questions and answers, and forms to use in requesting the premium reduction (and COBRA coverage, if not already enrolled).
Under COBRA, most group health plans must give employees and their families the opportunity to temporarily continue their group health coverage when coverage would otherwise be lost for reasons such as termination of employment, divorce or death.
The four model notice packages are available for download from EBSA's dedicated Web page at www.dol.gov/cobra. The Web page also contains additional frequently asked questions to help dislocated workers, their families and their employers understand the requirements. A notice announcing the model notices will appear in the March 20 edition of the Federal Register.