Cobra and Compliance

Download the Employers Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA

Download the Employers Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits  the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.

COBRA outlines how employees and family members may elect continuation coverage. It also requires employers and plans to provide notice.

DOL Web Pages on This Topic

COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance Under The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009 (ARRA)
Provides information and guidance for premium reductions and additional election opportunities for health benefits under the ARRA.

Frequently Asked Questions: COBRA Continuation Health Coverage
Provides answers to commonly asked questions about COBRA.

Health Benefits Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)(PDF)
Provides a detailed overview of the major provisions of COBRA.

Compliance Assistance
Provides publications and other materials to assist employers and employee benefit plan practitioners in understanding and complying with the requirements of ERISA as it applies to the administration of employee pension and welfare benefit plans.

Portability of Health Coverage (HIPAA) Frequently Asked Questions
Provides answers to questions including “what is HIPAA?” and “how does crediting for prior coverage work under HIPAA?”

Your Employer’s Bankruptcy: How Will it Affect Your Employee Benefits?(PDF)
Provides information on bankruptcy’s effect on pension and group health plans.

Retirement and Health Care Coverage…Questions and Answers for Dislocated Workers(PDF)
Provides answers to common questions asked by dislocated workers about their pension and health benefits.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Health Benefits Work for You(Español)
Provides information to help you make informed decisions about health plans.

Work Changes Require Health Choices(Español)
Provides information on protecting your health care rights when your work life changes.

Life Changes Require Health Choices(Español)
Provides guidance on making health benefit decisions following key life events such as marriage or the birth or adoption of a child.

Frequently Asked Questions for Reservists Being Called to Active Duty Related to their Pension and Health Benefits
Provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about pension and health benefits by National Guard and reserve members being called to active duty as a result of the events of September 11, 2001.

Information courtesy Department of Labor –


Do you need assistance with Compliance? Please see the following resources:

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)provides many forms of compliance assistance, including voluntary compliance programs, advisory opinions, and publications. They are compiled on EBSA’s Compliance Assistance web page. This compilation includes information specifically developed to assist and inform employers and employee benefit plan practitioners in understanding and complying with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)as they apply to the administration of retirement plans. Much of the material is specific and technical in nature. It is not intended to be the only source of information necessary for employer-sponsored employee benefits plans to be in compliance.

Employers and plan practitioners may also benefit by reviewing some of the more general materials available to the public at EBSA’s Consumer Information on Health PlansWeb page.

DOL Web Pages on This Topic

Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance (DFVC)
Provides a description of the program that reduces the monetary penalties for employee benefit plan administrators with respect to plan filings to encourage voluntary compliance.

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP)
The voluntary compliance program is intended to encourage self-correction of certain violations of ERISA and to protect the financial security of retirement plans. This fact sheet describes the process for making an application, the specific financial transactions covered, acceptable methods for correcting violations, and examples of potential violations and corrective actions.

ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST)
The EFAST system streamlines filing and processing of the annual return/report forms through the use of computer scannable forms and electronic filing technologies. This Web site provides assistance on using this system.