Special Open Enrollment Period Under Federal Health Care Marketplace for COBRA

insuranceA year ago, the Department of Labor (DOL) released model general notice and model election notice forms for providing COBRA notices to employees in anticipation of the availability of alternative individual health insurance coverage becoming available beginning January 1, 2014 through the new health insurance exchanges or marketplaces created under the 2010 health reform law.  But the interplay between electing COBRA coverage or coverage under the new marketplaces is complicated, and confusion has resulted among those eligible for COBRA coverage.

So, on May 2, 2014, the Department Of Health & Human Services announced a special open enrollment period of May 2, 2014 through July 1, 2014, under the federal marketplace allowing an individual currently on COBRA to voluntarily end COBRA coverage and get coverage through the federal Marketplace, if otherwise eligible for the federal marketplace coverage.  State marketplaces are encouraged, but not required, to also offer a special enrollment period.

At the same time, the DOL issued proposed regulations removing older model notices from appendices to the COBRA regulations and providing that the approved notices and future changes to the notices will be posted on the DOL website.  This will allow faster updating of the notices when needed because amendment of the regulations themselves will not be required.  The most recent model notices on the DOL website are here:  model general notice and model election notice.

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