Benefits and Compensation

Court: It Takes More Than a Screenshot to Prove COBRA Compliance

When an employee is terminated from employment and loses group health plan coverage (subject to The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)), plan administrators should ensure that all qualified beneficiaries are sent COBRA election notices in a timely fashion.

Plan administrators are not required to ensure actual receipt of the election notice, but a good faith effort to provide the notice must be made. In many cases, mailing the election notice to the last known address will be sufficient, so plan administrators should maintain records showing the date the notice was sent. In the absence of clear records, an affidavit from an official directly responsible for ensuring notices are mailed may be sufficient.

An employer/plan administrator using an affidavit with a screenshot indicating that a COBRA election had been sent had to provide more evidence showing that the COBRA election notice was actually sent.

A federal district court in Michigan categorized the screenshot as “hearsay” purporting that a COBRA notice was sent on a timely basis. However, the court did consider other evidence — an affidavit from an employee of the third-party administrator (TPA) who was more directly responsible for ensuring that COBRA notices are sent and who reviewed the actual computer records.

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