San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) May 19, 2014
A small group of employers have overhauled their employee communications in response to health reform, urging recently laid-off workers to enroll in Covered California rather than in COBRA.
According to Brian Poger, CEO of Benefitter, a San Francisco-based startup facilitating these new communications, “COBRA was once the main way for people to maintain healthcare coverage while looking for a new job. But now that more affordable options are available on the Exchange, COBRA could soon disappear.”
The regulators appear to agree. On May 15, Covered California created a special enrollment period for people on COBRA, allowing them to enroll in an exchange plan through July 15th, 2014. But, while regulators now tout the advantages of exchange plans, employers have some catching up to do.
Nearly all employers still send departing workers a notification explaining how to continue their healthcare coverage using COBRA. These notices can be very confusing, and often don’t teach them how to weigh COBRA against cheaper options on the exchange. “Progressive HR leaders now realize that if they just send out the regular COBRA notices, they won’t be doing right by their employees,” said Poger.
But with Benefitter’s help, several employers, including a large national retail chain, have started to change. Through the Benefitter platform, HR executives and insurance brokers can send personalized notices to employees, explaining their options in plain English, as well as the deadline to enroll in a new plan. Employees are then sent to Benefitter’s educational website, and guided by certified agents through the enrollment process from beginning to end. “This is no simple communication effort,” Poger said. “Regulations change daily. Every employee has a unique deadline, depending his or her termination date. Through it all, we make sure everyone knows exactly what to do.”
COBRA is very expensive, with average premiums of $11,000 per year or more. Most notably, COBRA does not give people access to premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions, which are only available through the exchange. According to Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California, “For some people who have COBRA coverage, purchasing a plan in the Covered California marketplace…could save thousands of dollars a year.”
Benefitter is helping employers and brokers around the country unlock value from healthcare reform. Learn more at http://www.benefitter.com