Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued model notices reflecting the recently enacted COBRA subsidy requirements and also issued updated FAQs on how the COBRA subsidy provisions are to work. View the model notices and FAQs. A summary of the different model notices (taken from the DOL’s descriptions) is below.

General Notice (Full version).  Plans subject to the federal COBRA provisions must send the general notice to all qualified beneficiaries, not just covered employees, who experienced a qualifying event at any time from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009, regardless of the type of qualifying event. This full version includes information on the subsidy as well as information required in a COBRA election notice.

General Notice (Abbreviated version). The abbreviated version of the general notice includes the same information as the full version regarding the availability of the premium reduction and other rights under the recently enacted COBRA changes, but does not include the COBRA election information. The abbreviated notice may be sent in lieu of the full version to individuals who experienced a qualifying event on or after September 1, 2008, have already elected COBRA coverage, and still have it.

Alternative Notice. Insurance issuers that provide group health insurance coverage must send the alternative notice to persons who became eligible for continuation coverage under a State law. Continuation coverage requirements vary among States, and issuers should modify this model notice as necessary to conform it to the applicable State law. Issuers may also find the model alternative notice or the abbreviated model general notice appropriate for use in certain situations.

Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods. Plans subject to the federal COBRA provisions must send this type of notice to any assistance eligible individual (or any individual who would be an assistance eligible individual if a COBRA election were in effect), which means anyone who is eligible for the COBRA subsidy, who:

1.          had a qualifying event at any time from September 1, 2008 through February 16, 2009; and

2.          either did not elect COBRA or who elected it but subsequently discontinued COBRA.

Note that this type of notice includes information on the recently enacted additional election opportunity, as well as premium reduction information. This notice must be provided by April 18, 2009.