Extension of healthcare, health plan coverage, employee benefit plan timeframes (COVID-19)

Extension of healthcare, health plan coverage

The IRS and Employee Benefits Security Administration (U.S. Labor Department) have jointly issued a final rule to extend certain timeframes concerning participants’ rights to healthcare coverage, portability, and continuation of group health plan coverage under COBRA, and to extend the time for plan participants to file or perfect benefit claims or appeals of denied claims. The extensions are provided as relief measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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These extensions provide participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans additional time to make health coverage and other decisions affecting their benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The final rule is intended to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with certain pre-established timeframes. Similarly, the final rule recognizes that affected group health plans may have difficulty in complying with certain notice obligations.

The final rule [PDF 487 KB] includes examples of application of the relief measures.

The Labor Department posted an advance version of the final rule on its website in advance of publication in the Federal Register. The final rule was released for publication in the Federal Register on April 30, 2020. The version released to the Federal Register is the official version.

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