A number of companies are facing class action lawsuits filed by former employees claiming that they did not receive proper notice of their health care benefits under COBRA after they had been terminated. The employers in these lawsuits are accused of providing COBRA notices in a confusing or unclear manner, not providing legally required information or failing to provide any information at all. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with Scott Hardy, President of Top Class Actions.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  Healthcare has emerged as one of the biggest issues of the 2020 presidential election. It’s emerged as one of the biggest issues in the country today and as such, more and more people are starting to really pay attention to what’s happening with healthcare in this country. And one of the things people are starting to take notice of is the program called COBRA. Now, COBRA is a healthcare program that most companies are required to provide, which offers people who have been terminated or had some kind of change in their employment status, the opportunity to purchase their current running healthcare program from their employer. But as we’re starting to see in many instances, employers are not actually telling their employees how to get this coverage and joining me now to talk about this is Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions.

Now Scott, again, this is a big one. Obviously healthcare is a huge issue for so many people in this country and the issue is we want to be covered. We want to make sure that if we lose our job, we still have health insurance and that’s what COBRA is supposed to be. But we’re finding out more and more employers are kind of dropping the ball, sometimes intentionally, with telling their employees about COBRA benefits.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly, I thought, probably was just like you and most people out there, that, that the COBRA benefits is very standard. You know, if you get let go, your company has 20 or more people, then they’re going to be required to send out the COBRA benefits. Well, turns out that a lot of companies out there, even big companies, aren’t doing it correctly because the thing about these COBRA notices, it has to be very clear. It has to, you know, be very evident that how to sign up, what you’re entitled, how much it’s gonna cost you. And sadly both small and big companies aren’t doing it. You know, we’ve seen some COBRA lawsuits that went against JP Morgan Chase. We’ve seen them against Best Buy. We seen them against Walmart, some huge employers that should be following the letter of the law but aren’t.

And so if you received a COBRA notice in the mail, please, please send it in to the attorneys that are running this investigation. They will be able to tell you whether it’s legal or not and if it isn’t, if it’s missing some things and you might be, you know, do some compensation as a class representative. Your friends that you worked with might be do some additional compensation. So it can really help you out in that time of need, you know, when you’re, when you’re looking for a job.

Farron Cousins:                  And one of the things we have to mention here too is obviously the fact that if you received one of these deficient COBRA notices from your employer or former employer and therefore you weren’t able to properly apply for these benefits. And suppose during that time you think you’re covered, think you have COBRA, you go to the doctor or you have a procedure of any kind or you have to pick up a prescription, you’re going to be hit with a very significant medical bill because you weren’t actually covered by that health insurance program. So that’s going to put a huge, huge strain on these people who may have been intentionally or unintentionally kind of worked over by these, by these corporations here.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly, this is something that can hit people really hard in their time of need. And so, you know, it’s one thing to be let go for a company to downsize, for a company to have to actually use those COBRA benefits to, you know, to take care of, of their, their employees or their past employees. But when they are stuck and, you know, they didn’t get the notice. That notice was deficient, you know, it didn’t identify how long the plan will continue, didn’t identify what the qualifying event was, didn’t identify the qualified beneficiaries. When those things aren’t included, then, you know, you are, they may very well not know how to proceed, how to submit your claim. You know, how important is it? And then like you said, you get stuck with a huge bill if you don’t get signed up in time.

So those are all things that these attorneys that are running this investigation are looking into. And the number one thing I can say is if you get that notice, send it in. Because you can count that if big employers like Walmart and Best Buy are getting hit with these COBRA notice class actions, that smaller ones, or that your employer may very well have done the same thing. And, you know, you might be able to get some compensation out of it.

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. For more information about this issue, including the list of things that are supposed to be on those COBRA notices, follow the link in the description of this video, head over to Top Class Actions. And if you have not already done so, I encourage everyone to subscribe to their weekly newsletter. Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions, thank you very much for talking with us today.

Scott Hardy:                          You’re welcome. Thanks for your time, Farron.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced