Taxability of Cobra continuation premiums paid by new employer

ody Q: My husband elected to continue our COBRA coverage up to 18 mos. (ends this July) instead of electing coverage offered by his new employer because 1) the new employer’s group plan required us to change all our doctors and go to an adjacent state for care (we live in CT, employer is in MA) and 2) we had already met all our deductibles for the COBRA plan for the year. The employer pays the COBRA provider directly for all the COBRA premiums but withholds $75/week from my husband’s paycheck because that is the amount he requires all employee’s on his company’s plan to pay towards their coverage. He is NOT taking my husband’s $75 weekly payment out PRE-TAX but IS taking his other employee’s $75/week payments out pre-tax. I cannot find clarification in the IRS regs or code section 125 on whether the prior employer’s COBRA plan is considered an “employer-provided” health plan for purposes of meeting the requirements of his new employer’s cafeteria plan. Should my husband be getting the PRE-TAX benefit the other employee’s are getting?

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