End of COVID-19 National Emergency to Impact COBRA as of July 11, 2023
6 min. Read
Last Updated: 05/04/2023
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The COVID-19 national emergency officially ended April 10, 2023, when President Biden signed a bi-partisan congressional resolution, a month earlier than the original scheduled end. However, previous issued guidance stated the end of the outbreak period as July 10, 2023, and recent informal guidance corroborated that.
The national emergency had granted the federal government and its agencies special permissions regarding regulations pertaining to the pandemic since 2020 that impacted employers and employees. With the end of the national emergency, one of the main impacts will occur with COBRA extensions.
The following is a high-level overview:
How Will COBRA Be Impacted by End of National Emergency?
All extensions granted during the pandemic will end at 11:59 p.m. July 10, 2023, which includes COBRA, Claims and Appeals, HIPAA special enrollment events, and Plan Notice.
Generally, if a participant has COBRA coverage as of May 11, 2023, then starting July 11, 2023, pre-pandemic COBRA time periods will return based on federal COBRA compliance guidelines. In the event of an initial qualifying event, an eligible qualified beneficiary will now have:
- a 60-day election period, removing the “until the earlier of (a) one-year from the date they were first eligible for extensions or (b) 60 days after the announced end of COVID-19 national emergency that had been in place. In no case will an extension period exceed one (1) year.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor extension guidelines, if participants are coming off an extension that ends at 11:59 p.m. July 10, 2023, the remaining election period or premium grace period will be applied on July 11, 2023.
Eligible participants who are eligible for COBRA on May 12, 2023 through July 10, 2023, will be subject to a 60-day election period on July 11, 2023.
COBRA payment periods also were impacted by the extensions granted by the agencies that enforce COBRA requirements, including the IRS, Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Labor. These extensions also end July 10, 2023, and payment periods will revert to what they were pre-pandemic:
- A participant has 45 days to remit their initial payment.
- A participant then must remit a premium payment every 30 days to continue coverage.
What Employers Should Know
With the conclusion of the COVID-19 national emergency, starting July 11, 2023, employers also must adhere to the pre-pandemic election notice deadlines.
- 14 days to send notice to qualified beneficiaries following a qualifying event, or
- 44 days to send notice for employers who are plan administrators
Employers also could consider communicating with individuals to inform them of these upcoming changes, including COBRA election, the end of HIPAA special enrollment, and payment deadlines, plus letting participants know that not all payments are due right away.
For more information, you can review the Department of Labor’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).