The Department of Labor (DOL) has published proposed regulations containing amendments to the COBRA notice provisions. The amendments are intended to align the model general and election notices with the Affordable Care Act provisions already in effect and to ensure that the DOL will have flexibility to modify the model notices going forward.

The proposed amendments will eliminate the current (outdated) versions of the model general and election notices contained in the appendix to current regulations and permit the DOL to amend the notices as necessary going forward without additional rulemaking. The preamble to the proposed regulations indicates that these changes will eliminate the confusion that may result from multiple versions of the model notices being available in different locations.

Contemporaneous with issuance of these proposed regulations, the DOL has issued updated versions of the model general notice and model election notice (which election notice is consistent with the version of the election notice made available as part of Technical Release No. 2013-02 (Guidance on the Notice to Employees of Coverage Options under Fair Labor Standards Act §18B and Updated Model Election Notice under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985)).  The updated notices reflect that coverage is now available in the Marketplace and the updated model election notice provides information on special enrollment rights in the Marketplace. The use of the model notices is not required and the model notices are provided solely for the purpose of facilitating compliance with the applicable notice requirements.

Until final regulations are issued and effective, the use of the model notices available on the DOL website, properly completed, will be considered good faith compliance with the notice content requirements of COBRA.