By Wanda Bishop
One of the most common mistakes in the world of COBRA is forgetting to send the initial notice, sometimes called the general notice.
The mistake is not only common, but also potentially costly, because the noncompliance fee is $110 per day for every day that every notice is late.
Nearly everybody remembers to notify a terminating employee of their COBRA rights, but it’s super-easy to forget the initial notice. It’s triggered when the employee first signs up for benefits, and it’s due within 90 days of that event.
Another notice is triggered when a covered employee adds a spouse. The spouse then must receive his or her own initial notice.
The notice has to follow requirements issued by the Department of Labor. It details the things an employee needs to know – the right to continuation coverage, what constitutes a qualifying event, how long coverage can continue for that event, and so on. It also outlines the employee’s obligations, such as providing notice of life changes, such as births, adoptions, name changes, divorces, legal separations or address changes. The notice has to be in writing and it has to make reference to your medical plan’s Summary Plan Description.
The best way to avoid this trap is to build it into your benefits enrollment process. If Savers Admin is your COBRA administrator, we have a form for you to complete as part of that process.
Let me know if you have questions. We want to help you avoid non-compliance!