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New COBRA Guidelines Related to Obamacare

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Jun 04, 2014 | 0 Comments

New COBRA Guidelines

Aca california

The Obama administration recently announced updates to model notices that employers must provide to employees, informing workers of their eligibility to continue health care coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

In early May, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a new model general notice form and model election notice form for providing COBRA notices to employees, and a related notice of proposed rulemaking on the COBRA notice requirements (found in the May 7th edition of the Federal Register).

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Clarifications

Under the new regulations, updated notices make it clear to workers that if they are eligible for COBRA continuation coverage when leaving a job, they may choose to instead purchase coverage through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace, as the government-run exchange is formally known.

According to a May 2nd Wall Street Journal report, individuals might prefer the coverage options offered through the ACA's exchanges over COBRA coverage options if they could qualify for tax credits that would help offset their premium costs. However, others might want to remain on their employer-sponsored health plans through COBRA in order to guarantee they still have access to the same network of physicians and hospitals.

Obamacare deadline pushed to July 15 for Californians on COBRA

On a related note, the Obamacare enrollment deadline was extended for Californians wanting to switch from COBRA health coverage. California's health exchange said an estimated 300,000 people in the state with COBRA insurance coverage can switch to an Obamacare policy through July 15.

The Affordable Care Act offers new options for those people in the individual insurance market. The federal law guarantees coverage regardless of preexisting conditions and provides premium subsidies based on a person's income. But open enrollment under the health law closed last month and doesn't reopen until November.

Covered California's executive director, Peter Lee, announced the special two-month enrollment period on Thursday, May 15th to address confusion about the sign-up rules and to clarify that people with COBRA coverage do qualify for special enrollment through July 15.

Covered California, California's health exchange can be found online at

Have Questions about COBRA?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) requires most employers with group health insurance plans to offer employees the opportunity to continue their coverage under their employer's plan even after termination, layoff or other change in employment status.

When employers offer health coverage, they usually pay part of the monthly premium for their employees. After losing a job, COBRA allows you to continue to be in the employer's group plan, but you will likely have to pay the full cost of the premium, plus an administrative fee.

Have Questions about other California Employment Laws?

There are a variety of ways that the qualified California lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can assist you.  Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling the toll free number (888) 500-8469 or contact us regarding your case.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, attorney and firm co-founder Eric B. Kingsley has litigated complex cases and authored numerous appellate briefs in both state and federal court on behalf of the California law firm of Kingsley & Kingsley, including over 150 class actions. Mr. Kingsley concentrates his pra...


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