|The U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury announced the extension of certain time frames under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Internal Revenue Code for group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, participants and beneficiaries of these plans, and group health insurance issuers directly affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The Agencies have taken steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with certain pre-established time frames contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and the rules for processing health claims. Similarly, the Agencies recognize that affected plans also may have difficulty in complying with certain notice obligations related to a participant's health coverage portability or continuation coverage rights.
With respect to plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, and health insurance issuers subject to part 7 of ERISA, must disregard the period from August 29, 2005 through January 3, 2006 when determining the following time periods and dates:
- The 63-day break in coverage period
- The 30-day period to secure creditable coverage without a preexisting condition exclusion for certain children
- The 30-day period to request special enrollment
- The 60-day period to elect COBRA continuation coverage
- The date for making COBRA premium payments
- The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability
- The date within which individuals may file a benefit claim under the plan's claims procedure
- The date within which claimants may file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan's claims procedure
Group health plans, their sponsors and administrators, and health insurance issuers directly affected by Katrina and subject to part 7 of ERISA, must disregard the period from August 29, 2005 through January 3, 2006 when determining the following dates:
- The date for providing an automatic certificate of creditable coverage
- The date for providing a COBRA election notice
The complete text of the regulation is located on our