Outbreak Period, National Emergency Ending: What’s Next?

Group of colleagues stand over a large table reviewing documents while some hold tablets. They are discussing the end of the national emergency and outbreak period and deciding how to notify their COBRA continuants.

On Monday, April 10, 2023, President Biden signed into law the end of the National Emergency.  P&A Group is following the guidance from EBSA and the IRS to continue using May 11 ast the emergency end date and July 10 as the end of the Outbreak Period.

On 5/4/2020, the DOL, IRS and Department of the Treasury issued a joint notification that provided extensions of certain time frames for group health plans and participants and beneficiaries of these plans during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The National Emergency’s expiration will affect time frames for COBRA, including electing coverage and paying premiums.


What the Expiration of the Outbreak Period Means

The original guidance provided relief of COBRA deadlines that would have fallen within the “Outbreak Period,” which is defined as March 1, 2020, through 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency.  This period will be disregarded for purposes of calculating COBRA deadlines.  According to EBSA and the IRS, the National Emergency ends on May 11, 2023, and therefore, the disregarded periods will end on July 10, 2023.  Please note the following deadlines will revert after July 10, 2023, and P&A will resume pre-Covid communication of COBRA deadlines and other group health plans under Federal regulations:


  • The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request HIPAA special enrollment.
  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage.
  • The date for making COBRA premium payments.
  • The date for individuals to notify the plan of a COBRA qualifying event or new disability.
  • The date for plan sponsors and administrators to provide a COBRA election notice (typically within 14 days after the plan receives notice of a qualifying event).
  • The date within which individuals may file a benefit claim under a plan’s claims procedures.
  • The deadlines for requesting internal and external appeals for adverse benefits determinations.


Notice of Expiration of Outbreak Period Required

COBRA participants will need to be notified of these expiration dates including those who had one year from the date they first qualified for the relief or those whose relief will end 60 days after the end of the National Emergency, or July 10, 2023.


Additional Important Items

Qualified beneficiaries will continue to be provided a notice of the extended election and payment time frames through the expiration of the Outbreak Period.


P&A Client and Participant Support

If you’re an employer who needs assistance, please contact your dedicated COBRA & Billing Specialist or request for a P&A Benefits Consultant to contact you.  If you’re a COBRA participant and have questions about your COBRA coverage, please contact P&A’s Participant Support Center Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m ET at (716) 852-2611 or through online webchat.


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