COVID-19 Health & Welfare Plans Guidance: Are We Still in the “Outbreak Period?”

We remain in limbo for certain health and welfare benefit administration deadlines due to COVID-19.  Legislation impacting COBRA election/payment deadlines, HIPAA special enrollment and other notifications, and 2019 health care FSA claims submission deadlines all refer to the “Outbreak Period.” The Outbreak Period is the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the national emergency. In response to questions we have received about these deadlines, we are reminding our clients that because these deadlines depend on the President declaring an end to the national emergency instigated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the previous guidance and deadlines still stand.


In July, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar extended the public health emergency created by the pandemic until October 23, 2020. If HHS announces the end of the public health emergency in October, this may cause confusion with respect to the Outbreak Period deadlines. The President (not HHS) must declare an end to the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic in order for the “Outbreak Period” to expire.

Previously, we released each of the following charts for our clients and alliances to detail COVID-19 relief and deadlines:

As we approach the new year, some of the deadlines that involve the “Outbreak Period” may run into 2021. We will continue to inform you of any legislative and/or regulatory updates regarding COVID-19.

TRI-AD’s COVID-19 Resources page

TRI-AD and our Associates’ suggestions or recommendations shall not constitute legal advice. No content on our website can be construed as tax or legal advice and TRI-AD may not be considered your legal counsel or tax advisor. Clients are encouraged to consult with their tax advisor and/or attorney to determine their legal rights, responsibilities, and liabilities. This includes the interpretation of any statute or regulation, federal, state or local; and/or its application to the clients’ business activities.