National Emergency Extended HIPAA and COBRA Time Frames

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Treasury (IRS) jointly, (“the Agencies”), issued a Final Rule extending several specific notice time frames applicable under HIPAA, COBRA, and ERISA. The rule also extends the time frames for COBRA elections, COBRA payments, and HIPAA special enrollments. In addition to the final rule, the DOL issued Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, indicating there will be leniency regarding enforcement of the timing and delivery method for all disclosures required under ERISA.

Under the Final Rule, group health plans, must disregard the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency*, or other such date announced by the Agencies (the “Outbreak Period”) in determining the following periods and dates –

  • The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request special enrollment

  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage

  • The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability

  • The date for making COBRA premium payments

* Please note that states declared their National Emergencies at different times, and therefore, may end their state’s National Emergencies at different times.


HIPAA Special Enrollments (adding/dropping dependents due to life events such as birth, marriage and divorce)

  • Our system is built according to current plan rules. To accommodate the extended period to request a special enrollment, the Employer should submit a request to the Enterprise Service Team at EnterpriseService@BenXcel.com.

Extended Deadlines of Qualifying Event Notices and COBRA Elections

  • BCC will honor any notices from qualified beneficiaries and COBRA elections for coverage received during the Outbreak Period that would otherwise be deemed late.

COBRA Premium Payments

  • Pursuant to the Final Rule, BCC will not terminate COBRA participants for non-payment of premiums during the Outbreak Period. Rather, we will provide the Employer a list of COBRA participants that are in arrears at the end of each month. The Employer will be the responsible entity (in conjunction with their broker and/or consultant) to discuss with their applicable carriers appropriate protocols to accommodate this new ruling. The Employer will need to advise BCC if and when to terminate the COBRA participant’s coverage. The Employer can communicate this directive though the Enterprise Service Team at EnterpriseService@BenXcel.com.

To learn more, as well as view the examples provided by the Agencies, please review the attached Compliance Alert.

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