Verbal Notice Not Enough for COBRA

December 14, 1998
Recently, an employee was forced to retire because of emphysema. A company representative came by and gave him general information about his termination and about his COBRA rights. But the company did not give the employee a confirmation letter describing his COBRA rights in detail.

Then, the company notified the employee that he had failed to elect COBRA coverage, and his COBRA rights were effectively terminated. When the employee was later hospitalized, he had no insurance.

An appeals court (Smith v. Rogers Galvanizing Co., CA 10, No. 96-5168) ruled that the employer did not sufficiently inform the employee about the 60-day notice period regarding continuing coverage under COBRA. It also failed to provide the employee with sufficient information about individual and family coverage, including premium amounts.

It’s a good reminder to make sure you are up to snuff on the COBRA requirements.

Source: You and the Law, National Institute of Business Management, 1750 Old Meadow Rd, Suite 302, McLean, VA 22102, November 1998. 800/543-2055. Cost: $187/year.