On April 10, the President signed legislation effectively ending the national emergency, proclaimed in 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden Administration had previously announced its intent to end both the public health emergency and the national emergency on May 11, 2023. The national emergency provided benefit-related extension deadlines, while the public health emergency mandates that health plans offer certain COVID-19 coverages. The public health emergency is still set to expire May 11, 2023.
Plan sponsors should note prolonged deadlines afforded to employees will end 60 days after the national emergency’s expiration. Deadlines associated with the benefit rights below revert to the original Department of Labor (DOL) standards:
- special enrollment periods for employees enrolling in an employer-sponsored coverage,
- election periods for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) continuation coverage,
- COBRA premium payments, and
- submitting health plan claims, adverse decision appeals and external reviews.
Employers should inform impacted individuals in advance of key deadline shifts.
The (DOL) published a blog outlining how health benefits will be impacted by the end of the public health emergency. Most notably group health plans will not be required to offer no-cost COVID-19 diagnostic testing to individuals. Group health plans should continue to cover in-network COVID-19 vaccines at no cost but have no obligation to offer no cost out-of-network COVID-19 vaccines.