Open Enrollment is a hectic time for benefits administrators. As you tackle your long to-do list, you may suffer from the nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something. If this happens, ask yourself: Are you forgetting COBRA participants?

Active employees and COBRA participants must be offered identical coverage options. According to the Department of Labor COBRA Continuation Health Coverage FAQs, “A change in the benefits under the plan for the active employees will also apply to qualified beneficiaries. Qualified beneficiaries must be allowed to make the same choices given to non-COBRA beneficiaries under the plan, such as during periods of open enrollment by the plan.”

In other words, you have to include COBRA participants in Open Enrollment. To make sure this happens without issue, here are some tips.

When you update the benefit rates and structures for active employees, do the same for COBRA participants.

COBRA participants should be given the same choices as active employees. For COBRA participants, the premium cost cannot exceed 102 percent of the cost for similarly situated active employees, which includes the employee-paid portion, the employer-paid portion and a 2 percent administrative fee.

Send out essential notices and updated coupons.

You need to send a notice to inform COBRA participants of the Open Enrollment period. You’ll also need to supply notice of any rate changes. If you use coupons to bill your clients, you’ll need to send out new ones with the updated information.

TPAs: Bill your clients for Open Enrollment.

As a third-party administrator, you spend a great deal of time and effort on Open Enrollment. Make sure your billing your clients appropriately, both for the paperwork you have to process and for the many questions you’ll be expected to answer. This may include a bill for each notification sent as well as an annual fee to cover processing.

Use the right software.

If this sounds like an impossible amount of work with many opportunities for error, the problem may lie in the tools you’re using. With the right software features, Open Enrollment can go smoothly – and you can stop worrying that you’re forgetting something.

Here are some of the software features that could help you:

    • An Open Enrollment template that can be customized
    • Automatically generated rate-change notices and coupon options
    • Client-fee invoicing

Do you need software that lets you automate more of your COBRA administration tasks, including Open Enrollment processes? Request a demo of T-COBRAWEB.