The holiday season is a time when families reconnect, gifts and spirits overflow, and candy cane lattes are the special of the week. On the other hand, the holidays provide numerous opportunities for unclear communication and unintended consequences. The same holds true for administering COBRA. Whether you’re managing the holidays or COBRA, avoid classic miscommunication mistakes with these best practices.
- Catch the Spirit of Giving: Just because you’re practical, doesn’t mean it’s OK to give your spouse an appliance. The spirit of giving means you buy what the other person wants – not what you want to give. The same holds true for COBRA communication. You’ll achieve better results if you communicate with participants, carriers or vendors in the manner of their preference. For example, you can’t send a 25 year old a COBRA message by snail mail and expect it to be read if text messaging or e-mail is his preferred medium. And you can’t send a senior participant a COBRA text message or e-mail communication if she prefers receiving correspondence in the mail. Think about those receiving the message and speak their language. You’ll get better results, guaranteed.
- Make a List, Check it Twice: It happens all the time – you throw a holiday bash and inadvertently forget to invite your next door neighbor. There’s nothing you can say to convince your neighbor that the oversight was an accident. The same scenario can occur with COBRA. More than one large company has inadvertently failed to issue the proper notices. And when you’re sued, you’ll never convince the judge that it was an honest mistake.
- Throw in a Little Magic: In the movies, Santa never encounters a budget crisis, a time crunch or even a sold out item. North Pole runs like clockwork with a built-in system of checks, balances and elves to keep everything on track. The same is true of good COBRA administration – notices are trigger-based and timeline sensitive, deploying automatically with minimal chance of human error. For example, when a COBRA participant experiences a qualifying event (loses coverage); a notice is automatically sent to the appropriate carriers alerting them to remove the participant from the group bills. It doesn’t matter if the human resource professional forgets, it’s done anyway. Maybe it’s not magic, but it sure feels like it!
Happy Holidays from the team at COBRAGuard!