COBRA Grace Period Extensions Disaster Relief and the End of the National Emergency
Under EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, you may qualify for additional time to pay your COBRA premiums. If you need more time to pay your COBRA premiums, please notify our Customer Service team at 800-556-3137.
On April 10, 2023, H.J. Res. 7 was signed into law, ending the COVID-19 National Emergency. Prior to this, the White House had announced another extension of the COVID National Emergency beyond March 1, 2023 at the time anticipating the emergency declaration would be terminated in May 2023.
Under guidance from EBSA Notice 2021-01 (and Notice 2020-01), the related Outbreak Period which began March, 1, 2020 was set to end 60-days after the date the COVID National Emergency was lifted. However, the DOL and other federal agencies have informally indicated the Outbreak Period relief is set to expire July 10, 2023, consistent with FAQ guidance issued in March 2023. Once the Outbreak Period ends, the normal deadlines for certain ERISA health and welfare benefit plans will once again be enforceable; this includes deadlines related to electing and paying for COBRA coverage.
As a reminder:
- The Outbreak Period relief only temporarily extended your premium due date.
- Monthly premiums are not forgiven.
- All coverages will be retroactively terminated if premiums are not paid in full.
- Coverage will end the last day of the month for which full premium was received
- If you received services, you may be responsible for any claims incurred once coverage ends.
For more information regarding the Outbreak Period relief, please see the following:
EBSA Notice 2020-01
EBSA Notice 2021-01
IRS Notice 2021-58
Previous Information Regarding the Outbreak Period
In April 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Treasury enacted a temporary new rule allowing, among other things, more time to pay your COBRA premiums. This rule sought to assist qualified beneficiaries having trouble paying premiums timely because of COVID-19 and applied only during the COVID Outbreak Period which begin on March 1st 2020 and is set to end June 9, 2023.
On February 26, 2021, the Department of Labor issued EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01, clarifying that the plan or participant-related deadlines subject to such Outbreak Period relief would be disregarded until the earlier of one-year from the date they were first eligible for relief, or 60-days after the end of the National Emergency declaration, whichever occurred first. On that applicable date, the timeframes for the previously disregarded deadlines would resume.
On October 6, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-58, which further clarified the Outbreak Period extensions of the COBRA election and initial premium payment periods. Notice 2021-58 advised that subject to a limited transition relief rule, qualified beneficiaries who elected COBRA coverage beyond the 60-day election period would have one year and 105 days to make their initial CORBA premium payment. For qualified beneficiaries who elected COBRA coverage within 60-days of receiving their Election Notice, the initial premium payment would be due in one year and 45-days following the date of their COBRA election. While the Outbreak Period remains in effect, under this guidance qualified beneficiaries must pay subsequent months’ COBRA premiums no later than one year from their original due dates, including the applicable 30-day payment grace period.