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Posted September 22, 2021

COBRA compliance experience

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How good of a handle do you have on COBRA’s many rules and regulations? It’s a lot to manage. That has been particularly true during the last 18 months, when new laws were passed and relief provided to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experience with COBRA compliance was crucial. We’ve outlined three reasons why experience counts. 

Avoid penalties

Employers put themselves at risk of potential penalties when they don’t hit federally mandated COBRA deadlines, which could include sending general rights notices and COBRA election notices within the required time window. There are other potential areas where inexperience can show, such as: 

  • Not realizing a group health plan is subject to COBRA.
  • Overlooking applicable state COBRA laws.
  • Charging incorrect COBRA premiums. 

Legislation adjustments

Change has become all too normal for us since early 2020. One of the most notable COBRA changes occurred earlier this year, when the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 was signed into law. ARPA allows workers who have been involuntarily terminated or experienced a reduction in hours to continue their employer health insurance coverage under COBRA with a 100 percent subsidy. 

When ARPA was signed into law, WEX put a plan in place to prepare consultants, our partners, and our clients with the tools and resources they needed, including: 

  • A compliance webinar with HR.com. 
  • Multiple blog posts to provide education on ARPA. 
  • A podcast episode with a senior regulatory and public policy analyst at Benefit Comply answering questions.
  • A landing page with answers to frequently asked questions. 
  • A COBRA subsidy timeline graphic with important deadlines. 
  • Frequent communications to our audiences with upcoming deadlines and new information.  

“(Regarding COBRA ARPA AEIs), WEX has taken that extra step where it’s all done in the system,” said Carrie Arnold of EPIC Brokers. “You’re not waiting for someone on the back end to get it done. It just feels cleaner and it feels faster.”

Comprehensive experience

COBRA compliance experience also shows when it comes to the content of communicating to qualified beneficiaries. It’s a complex topic that requires experience in keeping it simple. Helpful tools such as a knowledgebase of help articles, an easy-to-use mobile app, and responsive customer service all help to support COBRA members along their journey. 

Experience also shows in the technology that supports communication. Automation is key to making sure communications are sent to qualified beneficiaries on time. Ideally, an HR representative simply needs to update the qualified beneficiary’s status in their system, and behind the scenes, nearly everything else is taken care of. 

Check out our COBRA page to learn more about the COBRA experience with WEX.

The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel. 

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Hayden Goethe

Hayden is a content marketer for the benefits division of WEX. Hayden joined WEX in 2017 after nearly 15 years in journalism as an editor, writer, and designer. He's focused on providing thought leadership content to help our audiences get the most out of their benefits experience.



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