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Medicare Information Added to COBRA Model Notices

On May 1, the Department of Labor added language to the model COBRA notices to clarify the interaction between Medicare and COBRA. The changes apply both to the initial general notice, which is generally sent with enrollment information, and with the election notice sent when a participant loses coverage.

This new language does not reflect any change in the law, but simply provides more information to individuals about when they can enroll in Medicare, under what conditions enrolling in Medicare can terminate COBRA coverage, and the financial risks of postponing enrollment in Medicare. While use of the model notices is not mandatory, the DOL considers use of the model notices to constitute good faith compliance with COBRA notice requirements. Therefore, a plan’s existing COBRA notices should be updated to include information about the interaction between COBRA and Medicare to ensure compliance with COBRA.

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