COBRA administration can be confusing in the best of times. When you add complicating factors, it can seem downright baffling. Take COBRA and Medicare. Dealing with one can be a challenge – but what if your employees are dealing with both? Here’s how COBRA and Medicare interact.
The COBRA Blog
COBRA administration is complicated and confusing, but it is also consistent. As readers know, we look at COBRA mainly through the eyes of the COBRA or health Plan administrator, striving to address COBRA conundrums before they become a problem for the Department of Labor, the State Department of Insurance, the IRS, and especially the Federal Court.
Do you trust your COBRA administrator? This is an important question because as health insurance rates have skyrocketed, so too has the liability associated with COBRA administration. The ACA removed limits from policies, and in doing so, lifted the lid on potential COBRA errors as well. Remember, COBRA is compliance at its heart and the regulatory penalties which may be levied by the Department of Labor are significant. The insurance claims which COBRA participants might incur can be even more dangerous to the health plan than the penalties.
Since the onset of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, employees who have lost health coverage due to a qualifying event have had the option of continuing their coverage by electing COBRA or by choosing their own health insurance plan through the Marketplace. Back then, some predicted that the ACA would make COBRA obsolete. Now, almost five years later, COBRA stands strong.
Well, another football season is upon us. The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are turning, and the sun shines brightly on the football fields across America. The season includes parties, tailgating, fantasy football, and games at every level – from pee-wee league to pro.
We’ve covered many COBRA administration twists and turns through the years. As COBRA has evolved, the challenges continue to increase. Leaves of Absence (LOA) during employment has made COBRA even more complex. LOA used to be about sick time and vacation. Now it can include leaves for maternity, paternity, personal, family, childcare, medical, military, sabbatical, adoption, ADA and other reasons.
Earlier this year, we posted an article on “The COBRA Implications of AHP Expansion” in which we discussed how COBRA may be impacted by the DOL’s proposed guidance on expanding Association Health Plans. On June 21, 2018, the Employee Benefits Security Administration division of the DOL published the Final Rule (29 CFR 2510) giving us the definition of “Employer” under Section 3(5) or ERISA related to Association Health Plans.
Tags: Association Health Plan
The news has been abuzz recently with several large corporate mergers and acquisitions. No doubt large corporations have teams of lawyers on staff to ensure compliance during and after corporate changes. However, even businesses that are not large enough to staff a team of lawyers undergo mergers, acquisitions and restructuring. While these businesses may not make the evening news, they are held to the same COBRA compliance standards as large employers.
In the world of employee benefit plan administration and compliance, we often focus on what not to do. However, even in this highly regulated industry, plan sponsors have options when it comes to COBRA.
No matter how long you work with COBRA, questions still arise. Here are four COBRA administration questions that caught our attention this month. Ready for a pop quiz? See if your team can answer these four questions correctly!