COBRA Deadline Extension Update and New COBRA Model Notices

We previously communicated information regarding the new rule in response to COVID-19 that extends most COBRA deadlines to beyond the “Outbreak Period,” which it defines as March 1, 2020, to 60 days after the end of the declared COVID-19 national emergency.

Additional guidance has been released clarifying the Key COBRA deadlines extended as follows: 

  • The 30- or 60-day deadline for employers or individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event
  • The 14-day deadline for a plan sponsor/administrator to provide a COBRA election notice
  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage
  • The 45-day deadline for making an initial COBRA premium payment
  • The 30-day grace period for subsequent monthly payments

For any of these events that occur during the Outbreak Period, do not start counting until the Outbreak Period ends.

For events that occurred before March 1 where the timeline extends into the Outbreak Period, the clock stopped (at March 1) and will not restart until the Outbreak Period ends.

Until an end date is declared for the COVID-19 National Emergency, the end date for the Outbreak Period is unknown, so exact guidance is not possible at this time. For now, it is important that you are aware of this ruling and understand that future COBRA process changes will be necessary.

We will continue to update you as new information is released.

New COBRA Model Notices Released By The DOL on May 1, 2020

Note: These new revised COBRA Model Notices DO NOT have anything to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or the new final rule noted above.

This is the first time the COBRA Notices have been updated since 2014. They were revised to update certain verbiage in the hopes that it will help plan participants make more informed decisions pertaining to healthcare benefit options, especially those of Medicare-eligible age.

Click the links below to download the new Model Notices and accompanying FAQ from the Department of Labor: