Vigilant Blog

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Feb 16, 2023

COVID-19 benefits plan deadline extensions to end July 10, 2023

COVID-19Employee Benefits 

The Biden Administration recently announced that the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency will end on May 11, 2023, which means that starting 60 days afterward (July 10, 2023), various employee health plans will no longer be required to extend certain deadlines for plan participants and beneficiaries. This includes extensions to the usual deadlines to elect continued health coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

As we previously reported, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a rule on May 4, 2020, that required several types of health and benefit plans to extend various deadlines during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Later guidance (as we reported here) clarified that the usual timeframes for deadlines would be disregarded until the earlier of (a) one year from the date they were first eligible for this relief, or (b) the end of the “outbreak period” (which began on March 1, 2020 and will end 60 days after the national emergency ends).

One of the laws affected by the extensions is COBRA, which allows workers and their family members who experience a qualifying event (such as the employee’s loss of work hours) and would otherwise lose group health insurance to continue their coverage for a designated amount of time by self-paying. Normally, these individuals have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage, but the deadline extension relief allowed more time during the pandemic.

Now that the end of the national emergency has been set for May 11, 2023, we know the “outbreak period” will end 60 days afterward on July 10, 2023. For deadlines that have not already expired, the normal clock will begin ticking again as of that date.

Tips: Contact your benefits provider, administrator, and/or adviser to ensure employees receive proper notice, and to ensure preparation for other benefits-related effects of the end of the emergency periods. For more information relating to COBRA, see the EBSA’s webpage, “Disaster Relief Information for Employers and Advisers,” which has resources on COVID-19 Relief and Guidance for Employee Benefit Plans.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.