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COBRA open enrollment

5 Things You Need to Know About COBRA Open Enrollment

February 4, 2021

Open enrollment isn’t just for your active employees. Your COBRA members also go through an open enrollment period each year. We’ve compiled five things you’ll want to know about COBRA open enrollment.

Health plans must be the same as active population’s options

COBRA requires many employers to give their workers and their families the opportunity to continue their group health benefits through their group health plan once they experience a qualifying event. If you’re required to offer COBRA to your qualified beneficiaries, you must offer the same health plans that are available to your active employees (as long as those plans are COBRA-eligible plans).

Communication is primarily off-site

Open enrollment for your active employees may include a number of tactics, including benefits fairs and Q&As. However, your COBRA members are not on site, so you may need to adjust your open enrollment communication approach. That’s why many businesses turn to a third-party administrator to manage their COBRA member contact information and actively communicate with them during open enrollment.

Active versus passive enrollment

There are two types of open enrollment:

  • Active, which requires your employees or members to choose their enrollments each year.
  • Passive, which automatically re-enrolls them in their previous year’s enrollments if they take no action.

Because your COBRA members aren’t on-site, we recommend you offer a passive open enrollment.

There are alternatives to COBRA

COBRA comes at a cost. And your qualified beneficiaries have to pay the entire cost of their coverage. However, you and your qualified beneficiaries both save when they shop for alternative coverage that’s customizable and more affordable. Our direct clients have access to our marketplace, which can help them and their continuants save. A single COBRA member on our marketplace saves, on average, $150 per month, while the average family saves $675 per month.

Online renewal simplifies experience for members

An online experience can be a big difference maker for your business when you’re holding open enrollment for off-site COBRA members. It gives them a more modern, easier-to-follow experience that reduces paperwork, manual processes, and member questions. We’ve optimized our participant online experience to give our clients the option of allowing their COBRA members to complete their open enrollment through their online accounts.

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