Sarah Borders, CEBS April 12, 2023 7 min read

COVID-19 National Emergency Period Terminates on April 10th - Earlier Than Expected

On April 10, 2023, the president signed a resolution formally terminating the COVID-19 National Emergency period. The administration had previously announced that both the national emergency and public health emergency (PHE) periods would end May 11, 2023, but the signing of the legislation ended the national emergency period earlier, as of April 10, 2023. 

The PHE is still scheduled to end May 11, 2023, but the Outbreak Period, which ends 60 days after the end of the national emergency period, will end earlier than previously anticipated.

The COVID-19 Outbreak Period was declared effective on March 1, 2020. This rule significantly impacted employee benefit plans by extending timelines related to COBRA, CHIP, HIPAA Special Enrollments, and claims and appeals procedures.

Specifically, the Outbreak Period impacted benefit plans in several ways by instructing ERISA plans and participants to disregard the Outbreak Period for:

  • 30-day timeframe (60-day for termination of Medicaid or CHIP) for a participant to elect HIPAA special enrollment;
  • 60-day timeframe for a participant to elect CHIPRA special enrollment;
  • 60-day timeframe for a participant to elect COBRA continuation coverage;
  • Timeframe for a participant or Qualified Beneficiary to notify a plan of a qualifying event or disability determination;
  • Timeframe for the plan to provide a COBRA election notice;
  • Timeframe for a participant to timely pay COBRA premiums; and
  • Timeframe for a participant to file claims, appeals, and requests for external review.

However, it is important to note that ERISA contains language limiting timeline extensions to no more than one year. Thus, for example, the normal 60-day timeframe for a qualified beneficiary to elect COBRA coverage was extended by the Outbreak Period to one year plus 60 days.

With the end of the national emergency now formally made on April 10, 2023, the 60-day clock to sunset the Outbreak Period has started. This means that all of the items above will revert back to their normal time frames effective June 9, 2023 (60 days after the end of the National Emergency Period), but prior guidance encourages plans to continue providing longer timeframes for the above periods.

Please reach out to your trusted advisors at Hausmann Group if you have questions. 


Sarah Borders, CEBS

Principal, Benefits Compliance Solutions. Sarah has spent the last 15 years in the employee benefits industry, has numerous designations and serves on NAHU’s Employer Working Group Subcommittee and is an active board member of Austin AHU. She recently stepped down as Vice President of Benefits Compliance at one of the nation's largest brokerage firms to start her own compliance consulting practice. Her designations include an active license with the Texas Department of Insurance, CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist), Certified Health Care Reform Professional, HIPAA certification and Health Care Service Associate. She holds an MBA from Texas A&M Corpus Christi and a BA from University of Incarnate Word. Her consulting firm, Benefits Compliance Solutions, partners with employers to identify unknown risks and avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and lawsuits from failure to comply with their healthplan obligations.