Department of Labor Releases Guidance on Continuation of Relief Deadlines
The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance on the temporary extension of the COVID-19-related relief for COBRA and HIPAA special enrollment deadlines.
On February 26, 2021, Notice 2021-01 stated that the Outbreak Period will not expire on March 1, 2021. The Notice further states that the Outbreak Period is still ongoing, and clarifies that individuals will have plan deadlines paused until the earlier of:
• One year from the date an individual was first eligible for relief (on or after 3/1/20), OR
• 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency (end of the Outbreak Period).
This means that since the National Emergency is still ongoing, the determination of when the outbreak period ends will need to be calculated based on an individual’s event, never to exceed one year.
Temporary Deadline Extensions
COBRA administration must continue to adhere to the following deadline extensions. Here is an example to help illustrate the guidance provided:
COBRA Election Timeframe:
Molly’s qualifying event date occurs on 5/1/20. In the absence of the Outbreak Period, she would have 60 days to elect COBRA, which is 6/30/20. Since the Outbreak Period is ongoing, she will have up to 6/30/21 to elect COBRA.
*NOTE: When the Outbreak Period ends, an individual’s actionable deadline will be 60 days from the Outbreak Period end date, but will never exceed the one-year.
The NCA team is continuing to monitor the situation for any additional changes. Additionally, we will send updates if/when the COBRA subsidy passes in the Senate. This is expected to pass mid-March. Our team has already begun putting processes in place to accommodate these anticipated COBRA changes.
If our team is currently administering your COBRA benefits, no action is required on the part of the Employer or the Qualified Beneficiary to request these new timelines to be applied.
The NCA COBRA administration procedures have been updated to comply with the new deadlines:
All required COBRA notices have been updated to reflect these timelines
All Qualified Beneficiaries (QBs) who lost coverage on or after March 1, 2020 will be sent a notice explaining the changes and extended deadlines
This notice will include information with the alternative coverage options that are available to them (e.g.: Special Enrollment period through the Federal Exchanges is open through May 15th)
We understand that these changes are administratively burdensome, but please be assured that our team is here to help keep Employers compliant. We are here to answer any questions. As always, please feel free to reach out your account managers.
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