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The Wagner Law Group Description 

The Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor & human resources practice. 

 

Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 22 attorneys engaged exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and employment law. Five of our attorneys are AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in more than 40 states and several foreign countries.

 

 

Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group

 

  Integrity | Excellence

  

Massachusetts Office 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110


Florida Office 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

   

San Francisco Office

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 829-4385

315 Montgomery Street

Suite 902

San Francisco, CA 94104

 

www.wagnerlawgroup.com

 

 

May 23, 2013 

 State and Federal Law Alert

 

  DOL Issues Updated Model COBRA

Election Notice 

 

The DOL has issued an updated Model COBRA Election Notice that group health plans can use to inform terminated employees and other qualified beneficiaries of their right to continued health coverage under COBRA. Specifically, the updated Election Notice informs COBRA-eligible individuals about coverage options available through Health Insurance Exchanges and the premium tax credit created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA").

 

General Rule. Under COBRA, continuation coverage is available to an employee, and his spouse and covered children, if the employee is terminated or has his hours reduced so as to make him ineligible for health care coverage. COBRA coverage is also available to spouses and dependent children when they would otherwise lose coverage because the employee divorces or is legally separated, becomes enrolled in Medicare, or dies. A dependent child is entitled to COBRA when he or she no longer meets the definition of a covered dependent under the plan. These "qualified beneficiaries" must be allowed to elect COBRA continuation coverage and group health plans must provide these qualified beneficiaries with a COBRA Election Notice that explains both the right to COBRA continuation coverage and how to make an election.

 

Updates to Notice. DOL's Model Notice has been revised so that it now informs qualified beneficiaries about the coverage options available through the Health Insurance Exchanges and the premium tax credits created by PPACA. DOL believes that qualified beneficiaries may want to consider and compare their group health coverage options with those available through the Exchanges.

 

Completing the Notice. As with DOL's previous model, plan administrators must complete the new Model Notice by filling in the blanks with the appropriate information. While employers are not required to use the Model Notice, DOL considers plan administrators who properly complete the Model Notice to be in good-faith compliance with COBRA's election notice requirements.

 

Conclusion. With the availability of affordable group health coverage through the Exchanges and the introduction of premium tax credits, the need for COBRA coverage may drop significantly. In fact, enrollment in coverage through an Exchange, rather than under COBRA, may save money for both the qualified beneficiary and the employer. Therefore, it is in the interest of group health plan sponsors to amend their COBRA notice to include information about the Exchanges and the availability of premium tax credits. However, employers are advised to do so only with the assistance of qualified employee benefits practitioners.

 

The Model COBRA Election Notice is available in modifiable, electronic form. A redlined copy is also available, which shows the changes made from the prior notice. The notices and related information are accessible at: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.html

 

 

This Newsletter is protected by copyright. Material appearing herein may be reproduced with appropriate credit.

  

Pursuant to Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we hereby inform you that any advice set forth herein with respect to US federal tax issues is not intended or written by The Wagner Law Group to be used and cannot be used, by you or any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code.

 

This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.