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U.S. Public Health Emergency Officially Extended

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Benefits Consultants
Lumity, Inc.

The public health national emergency has officially been extended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through January 21, 2021. HHS must renew public health emergencies every 90 days.

The Implication for Group Health Plans

This means the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) mandatory deadline extensions for group health (including health FSAs and HRAs), disability, and other welfare plans remain in effect for an additional 90 days.

When calculating deadlines, plans must disregard the "Outbreak Period", which runs from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency (or another announced date by the DOL/IRS).

For participants and beneficiaries, the Outbreak Period ("National Emergency") is disregarded in connection with:

(1) The 30-day (or 60-day) period to request HIPAA special enrollment
(2) The 60-day election period for COBRA coverage 
(3) The date for making COBRA premium payments (initial and periodic)
(4) The 60-day period for individuals to notify the plan of a COBRA qualifying event or determination of disability
(5) The date for an individual to file a benefit claim
(6) The date for a claimant to file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination
(7) The date for a claimant to file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination
(8) The date for a claimant to file information to perfect a request for external review upon a finding that the request was not complete 

Recommended Reading

Because annual health plan renewal season is upon us, it's worth checking out this post by Tariq Hilaly, Lumity's co-founder: 7 Strategies to Reduce Employer Health Plan Costs—Despite a Pandemic.

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