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June 8, 2015

Be Thorough With COBRA Communications (article)

Be Thorough with COBRA Communications

It is very important, according to the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, for COBRA election material not only be provided, but that it be legally sufficient, meaning that it provide all of relevant information.  In the matter of Griffin v. Neptune Tech. Grp (2015 WL 1635939 (M.D. Ala. 2015)), a terminated employee who was eligible for COBRA continuation coverage under his employer’s group health plan received a COBRA notice from his employer following his termination of employment.  The Court found that while the employer made a good faith effort to notify the individual of his COBRA rights, “the contents of the notice were insufficient under the law to allow him to make an informed and intelligent decision whether to elect continued coverage”.  Specifically, the Court determined that the contents of the COBRA notice lacked pertinent information required under the  Department of Labor’s regulations relating to the contents of the notice, as well as failed to adequately explain the plan’s procedures for electing COBRA coverage.

 

This is a good reminder for plan administrators to make certain that all plan communications are accurate and thorough.  This includes not only COBRA information, but summary plan descriptions, summaries of material modifications, and any other plan communications.

 The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

 

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