May 6, 2020 – With the COVID-19 impact on businesses, workers experiencing a change in their employment status may find themselves without health insurance coverage. A new rule extends the amount of time they have to consider and choose their options for continuing coverage.
New Rule Extends Enrollment for Those Who Lose Coverage
The loss of health insurance coverage begins special enrollment period that allows individuals to apply for health coverage outside the normal open-enrollment period. During this period, workers may enroll in individual health insurance plans or other group insurance coverage for which they are eligible (such as a spouse's plan) or extend group coverage through COBRA or Wisconsin COBRA.
On May 4, the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, and the IRS issued a final rule extending timeframes for making special enrollment elections for group health coverage and for continuation of group health plan coverage under COBRA.
Under this new guidance, employee benefit plans subject to ERISA (Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) or the Internal Revenue Code must extend participants' rights to special enrollment in group health coverage and COBRA continuation coverage, as well as timeframes for plan participants to submit benefit claims or appeal denied claims.
This extension applies during the period from March 1, 2020, until 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency, or another date announced by the agencies.
These agencies issued COVID-19 FAQs about Health and Retirement Benefits for Participants and Beneficiaries that explain the time extensions.
Wisconsin Resources for Employers and Employees
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI), in partnership with the Department of Health Services, the Department of Workforce Development, and the Wisconsin Economic Development have issued a guide that provides resources for employers and displaced workers, “COVID-19: Guide to Health Insurance Options for Employers,” on the OCI website.
Employers can also find information on the insurance page in the Member Benefits area of WisBar.org and on the Small Business Administration website.
It is important for individuals losing health coverage to consider all coverage options. In addition to individual coverage options, special enrollment in group health plan, or extension of group coverage through COBRA and Wisconsin COBRA, individuals may be eligible for health coverage through BadgerCare, depending on their income level. Visit Access.Wisconsin.gov for more information.
State Bar members who are without health care coverage as a result of an employment change may turn to one of the following State Bar trusted insurance advisors or their own trusted advisor for help exploring alternatives:
Bultman Financial Services (BFS)
(262) 782-9949 or (800) 344-7040
Professional Insurance Programs (PIP)