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COBRA Handbook, 2019 Edition COBRA Handbook, 2019 Edition

COBRA Handbook, 2019 Edition

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COBRA Handbook is designed for benefits professionals, plan administrators, employers, service providers, fiduciaries, attorneys, and others who must deal with the complexities of the COBRA.

This practical handbook simplifies the complexity of handling COBRA. It is designed for benefits professionals, plan administrators, employers, service providers, fiduciaries, attorneys, and others who must solve COBRA issues and stay in compliance. The handbook reviews in detail the rules contained in the IRS and DOL regulations and offers guidance on how to comply with the various rules contained in the regulations.

The 2019 Edition reviews significant legal developments in the COBRA arena since the publication of the prior edition and discusses new judicial decisions issued during the past year. Highlights include updated and extensive discussions of the following issues:

  • What types of employee benefit plans are subject to COBRA
  • Under what circumstances a COBRA qualifying event occurs
  • What constitutes termination due to "gross misconduct" for COBRA purposes
  • How a plan administrator can ensure compliance with COBRA's notification requirements, and what type of documentation should be retained
  • Under what circumstances a plan must notify an individual of the termination of his or her COBRA coverage
  • And much more!

COBRA Handbook also reviews in detail the rules contained in the IRS and DOL regulations and offers guidance on how to comply with the various rules contained in the regulations.

In addition, COBRA Handbook includes the following features to help employers, other plan sponsors,administrators, and consultants in administrating and complying with this complicated and continuously developing area of the law:

  • Examples illustrating important concepts
  • Practice Pointers to help benefits professionals comply with COBRA
  • Detailed case citations and notes to help the reader quickly locate relevant portions of the law, regulations, administrative releases, and supporting judicial decisions
  • The full text of the DOL and IRS Final COBRA Regulations, model COBRA notices, and sample COBRA provisions for inclusion in a purchase agreement
  • A glossary containing definitions of the key terms and abbreviations used in the book
  • A table of cases at the end of the book providing full citations to relevant judicial decisions, as well as chapter and section references for each case discussed
  • A table of COBRA cases grouped by issue
  • A detailed subject index

Note: Online subscriptions are for three-month periods.

Previous Edition: COBRA Handbook, 2018 Edition ISBN 9781454884361

Last Updated 08/05/2019
Update Frequency Annually
Product Line Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.
ISBN 9781454889908
SKU 10064411-7777
Publish Frequency Annually
Product Line Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.
SKU 000000000010073213
Table of Contents

1. Overview

  • Covered Group Health Plans
  • Covered Employers
  • Eligibility for COBRA Coverage
  • What Is COBRA Coverage?
  • Administration
  • COBRA Premiums
  • COBRA Enforcement, Penalties, and Remedies
  • Multiemployer Group Health Plans
  • Medicare and Its Relationship to COBRA
  • COBRA Issues in Mergers and Acquisitions
  • State Continuation Coverage Laws
  • Coordination of COBRA and Other Health Benefits

2. Covered Group Health Plans

  • General Rule
  • "Maintained" by an Employer or Employee Organization
  • Definition of Group Health Plan
  • Number of Group Health Plans
  • Cafeteria Plans and Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements and Health Savings Accounts
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Medical Savings Accounts
  • Long-Term Care Plans
  • Executive Physical Examination Plans
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Self-Insured Plans
  • Contributory and Noncontributory Plans
  • Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Associations
  • Collectively Bargained Plans
  • Multiemployer Plans
  • Multiple-Employer Welfare Arrangements

3. Covered Employers

  • General Rule
  • Who Is the Employer Responsible for Providing COBRA Coverage?
  • Exempt Employers: Small Employers
  • Exempt Employers: Government Employers
  • Exempt Employers: Church Plans

4. Eligibility for COBRA Coverage

  • Who Is Eligible for COBRA Coverage?
  • Which Events Trigger COBRA Eligibility?
  • When Is Group Health Plan Coverage Lost?

5. What Is COBRA Coverage?

  • The Concept of Continuing Coverage Under COBRA
  • What Level of Benefits Must Be Continued?
  • Rights of Qualified Beneficiaries
  • How Long COBRA Coverage Must Last
  • Termination of COBRA Coverage Prior to the End of the Maximum Coverage Period
  • Coverage During the COBRA Election Period and Premium Payment Grace Period

6. Administration

  • Required COBRA Notices
  • Content of COBRA Notices
  • When a Qualifying Event Occurs: Who Must Notify Whom?
  • Providing COBRA Notices
  • Receipt of COBRA Notice
  • The Election Period
  • Electing or Waiving COBRA Coverage

7. COBRA Premiums

  • Calculation of COBRA Premiums
  • Timing and Method of Premium Payments
  • Who Makes the Premium Payments?
  • Erroneous Acceptance of COBRA Premium Payments
  • COBRA Premium Payments Under the Trade Act of 2002
  • The ARRA Premium Subsidy

8. COBRA Enforcement, Penalties, and Remedies

  • Overview of COBRA Remedies and Sanctions
  • Division of Enforcement Authority
  • Tax Penalty for COBRA Violations: Current Rule
  • ERISA Penalty for Failure to Issue COBRA Notices
  • Fiduciary Liability Under ERISA
  • Civil and Criminal Liability Under ERISA
  • Enforcement Actions Under ERISA
  • COBRA Violations Under the Public Health Service Act
  • Violations of the Continuation Coverage Provisions in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

9. Multiemployer Group Health Plans

  • What Constitutes a Multiemployer Plan?
  • The Operation of Multiemployer Plans
  • Which Entity Is Responsible for Providing Continuation Coverage Under a Multiemployer Plan When an Employer Ceases to Contribute to the Plan?
  • Special COBRA Notice Rules for Multiemployer Group Health Plans
  • Miscellaneous COBRA Rules Affecting Multiemployer Plans
  • Application of COBRA Excise Tax Penalty Provisions to Multiemployer Plans
  • Other Penalties Applicable to Multiemployer Plans
  • Remedies

10. Medicare and Its Relationship to COBRA

  • What Is Medicare?
  • What Does Entitled to Medicare Mean?
  • Effect of Medicare (or Medicaid) Entitlement on Eligibility for COBRA Coverage
  • Medicare Entitlement as a COBRA Qualifying Event
  • Medicare Entitlement as a COBRA Terminating Event
  • Coordination of COBRA Coverage and Medicare

11. COBRA Issues in Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Stock and Asset Transactions
  • COBRA Provisions in Purchase Agreements
  • Issues Created by the Final M&A Regulations
  • Small-Employer Exception to COBRA

12. State Continuation Coverage Laws

  • What Is ERISA Preemption?
  • Why Is ERISA Preemption Significant?
  • Determining Whether a State Law Relates to ERISA Plans
  • Determining Whether a State Law Is Exempt from Preemption Because It Regulates the Business of Insurance
  • Determining Whether ERISA's Deemer Clause Causes a State Insurance Law to Be Preempted from Applying to Self-Insured Plans
  • Applicability of State Continuation Coverage Laws to ERISA-Covered Plans
  • Integrating State Law and COBRA Continuation Coverage Requirements
  • ERISA Preemption of State-Law Remedies for COBRA Violations

13. Coordination of COBRA Coverage and Other Health Benefits

  • General COB Principles
  • How Do COB Rules Relate to COBRA Coverage?
  • COB Model Regulation
  • Coordination of Group Health Plan Coverage with Medicare

Appendix A. Regulations

  • 2004 DOL Final COBRA Regulations
  • 2001 IRS Final COBRA Regulations
  • 1999 IRS Final COBRA Regulations

Appendix B. Model Notices

  • Model COBRA General Notice
  • Model COBRA Election Notice upon Occurrence of a Qualifying Event

Appendix C. Sample COBRA Provisions in a Purchase Agreement

  • Sample COBRA Representations and Warranties
  • Sample COBRA Indemnification Language
  • Note Regarding 1999 IRS Transaction Guidance



  • Internal Revenue Code Sections
  • IRS Announcements, Notices, Revenue Rulings, Revenue Procedures, and Letter Rulings
  • Treasury Regulations Sections
  • ERISA Sections, Releases, and Advisory Opinion Letters
  • DOL Regulations and Advisory Opinion Letters
  • Relevant Statutory Provisions, Regulations, and Other Pronouncements
  • Table of Cases
  • COBRA Cases by Issue


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