White House Issues New COBRA Guidelines, Clarifies ACA Exemptions
On Friday, the Obama administration issued new guidelines on the health insurance options that employers must offer employees who have been laid off or leave their jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, employees who leave their job or are dismissed can continue their employer-sponsored coverage for a specified amount of time afterward if they pay the entire premium (Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal, 5/2).
Under the new regulations, notices sent to such employees about their COBRA coverage options must also include information about enrolling in coverage through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges, The Hill reports (Viebeck, The Hill, 5/2).
According to the Journal, 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 (Wall Street Journal, 5/2).
CMS Broadens ACA Temporary Hardship Qualifications
In related news, CMS on Friday posted a bulletin clarifying how individuals can qualify for temporary hardship exemptions that allow them to sign up for coverage through the ACA's exchanges outside of the open enrollment periods, CQ HealthBeat reports.
CMS broadened the number of individuals who qualify for such exemptions to include those:
- Who are eligible for COBRA coverage;
- Whose plans will renew outside of the ACA's open enrollment periods; and
- Who participate in national service programs, such as AmeriCorps (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 5/2).
In addition, CMS created a temporary hardship exemption for individuals who purchased coverage through the ACA's exchanges that was effective on Thursday of this week or before, The Hill reports. This action essentially excludes the month of April from the ACA's individual mandate, meaning individuals will not be fined under the law if they did not have health insurance in April (Viebeck , The Hill, 5/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.