The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has previously made available model notices that plans may use to satisfy the requirements under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). The DOL has now released and made available updated versions of the model general notice and the model election notice to ensure that qualified beneficiaries better understand the interactions between Medicare and COBRA.


In general, under the COBRA continuation coverage provisions, an individual who was covered by a group health plan on the day before a qualifying event (such as termination of employment, divorce, or a dependent aging out of a plan) may be able to elect COBRA continuation coverage upon experiencing a loss of coverage (due to such qualifying event). A group health plan must provide qualified beneficiaries with a COBRA election notice that, among other things, describes their rights to continuation coverage and how to make an election. In general, the COBRA election notice must be written in a manner “calculated to be understood by the average plan participant.”

The updated model notices do not reflect any changes in the law, though they do provide employees with more information about when they can enroll in Medicare and the conditions under which enrolling in Medicare can result in a termination of COBRA coverage.

Compliance Considerations

The COBRA regulations provide detailed content requirements for both the COBRA general notice and the COBRA election notice. Employers should work with their COBRA vendors and consult with benefits counsel to determine whether the notices distributed to plan participants meet all of the requirements or if updates are necessary.

Additional Resources:

DOL FAQs About COBRA Model Notices

DOL FAQs About ACA Implementation (Part 32)

The information and materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Information provided in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and may vary by jurisdiction. The content on this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any particular facts or circumstances. The use of this blog does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship, nor should any such relationship be implied, and the contents do not constitute legal or tax advice. If you require legal or tax advice, please consult with a licensed attorney or tax professional in your jurisdiction. The contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any persons or entities with respect to any action or inaction based on the contents of this blog.

Lizet Ramirez – Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.