Additional guidance has been provided by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) in Notice 2020-01 related to ERISA and/or HIPAA deadlines for various group health and pension plans. Key details to know:
- The period between the start of the national emergency, March 1, 2020, and the announced end of the national emergency, which is still to be announced, will have relaxed requirements for certain ERISA deadlines.
- The Outbreak Period will end 60 days after the emergency is declared over.
- The COBRA Election period will be extended to 60 days beyond the end of the Outbreak Period rather than the standard COBRA election period.
- COBRA premium payments are considered timely when paid within 30 days following the Outbreak Period.
- Although the COBRA premium payment deadline will be extended, coverage isn’t active unless payment is made. Once retroactive premiums are paid for the extension period, then the coverage will be reinstated. COBRA claims will only be paid out for the period in which COBRA premiums are paid.
- Claim filing deadlines for claims incurred during the national emergency will begin counting at the end of the Outbreak Period rather than on the date the claim was incurred.
- Specifics on how the FSA/HSA extended deadlines might apply to your plan should be confirmed with your plan vendor.
- Employers must still make a good-faith effort to comply with all notice requirements, as best as administratively possible.
Below are two publications with additional details of the welfare benefit plan deadlines that have been extended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- HIPAA Special Enrollment Period
- COBRA Election Period
- COBRA Premium Payments
- COBRA Notices – Qualifying Events
- Benefit Plan Claims Filing Procedure Timeframe (FSA/HRA)
- ERISA Adverse Benefit Determination Appeals Deadlines
- ERISA External Review
- Deadline to Submit Additional Information for External Review
United Benefit Advisors (UBA) ~ Final Rule on the Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Due to COVID-19
Navia Benefit Solutions ~ Employee Benefit Extension for the COVID-19 Pandemic-COBRA, FSA, HRA and More
UBA also published a compliance alert describing EBSA guidance in the following areas:
- ERISA Notice and Disclosure Relief
- Retirement Plan Loans and Distributions
- Participant Contributions and Loan Repayments
- Blackout Notices
- General ERISA Fiduciary Compliance
Employee Benefits Security Administration Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01
Another new UBA Compliance Alert covers guidance related to health plan coverage, specifically tests for COVID-19, provider visits and Plan modifications.
FAQs on Health Plan Coverage Under the FFCRA and the CARES Act
According to our local survey of carriers (Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield and United Healthcare), they confirmed antibody testing that is approved by the FDA or other government guidance and recommended by a physician will be covered without cost-sharing or prior authorization requirements.
Below is a link to resource to help with Return to Work planning, from the Zywave compliance library.
Return to Work Plans Following the COVID-19 Pandemic