Latest Regulatory Updates/Reminders

January 13, 2023 | COVID-19 Industry News Quick Alerts

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Extended Again

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. government first enacted a National Public Health Emergency in March 2020. Intended to last one year, on January 11, 2023, the COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency (PHE) was once again extended for 90 days. The PHE is now scheduled to expire on April 11, 2023.

Impact on Employee Benefit Accounts

Extension of public health emergency status automatically extends the temporary rule changes regarding COBRA, HIPAA, and group health plans (including FSAs and HRAs). Decreed jointly by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), these were issued on April 29, 2020.

Benefit Deadlines Affected

Per the rulemaking, the period from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the end of the National Emergency (the “Outbreak Period”) must be disregarded in tolling the following deadlines:

COBRA Election Notice Deadlines

The 14-day deadline for the group health plan administrator (or 44 days, where the employer is the plan administrator) to provide a COBRA election notice to qualified beneficiaries.

COBRA Qualifying Event and Disability Extension Notices Deadline

The 60-day deadline by which qualified beneficiaries must notify the plan of certain qualifying events. These include divorce or legal separation, a dependent child ceasing to be a dependent under the plan’s terms, or a disability determination, among others.

COBRA Election Deadline

The 60-day deadline to elect COBRA continuation coverage.

COBRA Premium Payments Deadline

The 45-day (initial payment) and 30-day (subsequent payments) deadlines to timely pay COBRA premiums.

HIPAA Special Enrollment Period Deadline

The 30-day deadline (in some instances, 60-day) to request enrollment in a group health plan following a qualifying event. Qualifying events include birth, adoption, marriage, loss of other health coverage, or eligibility for a state premium assistance subsidy.

Benefit Claims and Appeals (group health plans, FSAs, and HRAs) Deadline

The deadline under the plan by which participants may file a claim for benefits (under the plan’s terms). Also, the deadline for appealing an adverse benefit determination.