Benefits Deadline Extensions due to COVID-19

As a result of the current national emergency surrounding COVID-19, the Department of Labor is allowing extensions on deadlines pertaining to making changes to or enrolling in health and dental plans.

This extension also impacts deadlines for the following:

  • Health and Dental Plan enrollment as a result of a  Life or Career Event such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, spouse starting or ending employment;
  • COBRA elections, COBRA premium payments, and notice of certain changes; and
  • Claims and appeals.

How Do I Make a Change?

Contact the HR Service Center at hr@bu.edu or by calling 617-353-2380. You will need to use a paper Benefits Enrollment Form if you wish to take advantage of the deadline extension.

What is Changing?

Normally, when you experience a Life or Career Event, you have 30 days from the date of your life or career event to submit your request to make a change to your benefit plan enrollment.

Due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 national emergency, you now have the earlier of the following deadlines to submit a request to make a change to your benefit plan enrollment:

  • One year from when the regular deadline would have applied
  • 30 days from the date of the end of the Outbreak Period

It is important to note that this deadline extension only applies to the health and dental plans.

What is the Outbreak Period?

The Outbreak Period is defined as the period from March 1, 2020, until sixty (60) days after the announced end of the National Emergency. Once the end of the National Emergency is announced, deadlines will be calculated using the earlier of one year from the regular deadline, or the end of the Outbreak Period as the starting point for the 30-day deadline that normally applies to Life or Career Events.

It is important to note, however, that any changes requested will still be retroactive to the date of your life or career event, and this deadline extension applies to all Life or Career event deadlines on a trailing one year basis.

How to Request a Change

Due to the complex nature of this legislation and the one year limitation to the deadline extension, please contact the Human Resources Service Center at HR@bu.edu if you wish to take advantage of this deadline extension and submit a Life or Career Event.

Example:

  • You are married on May 2, 2020.
  • You want to change your individual health plan coverage to employee plus spouse coverage.
  • Under the normal deadline, you have thirty days from the date of the event which is the date of your marriage: May 2, 2020 + 30 days = June 1, 2020.
  • Under the extension/relief period deadline, you have until the earlier of:
    • One year from the regular deadline of June 1, 2020, which is June 1, 2021, or
    • Thirty days following the end date of the Outbreak Period to submit  your change.
      • For this example, we will assume the National Emergency End Date is April 30, 2021, so the Outbreak Period ends on June 29, 2021.
      • Your deadline is, therefore, June 1, 2021.

The following chart summarizes how the extension works for several of the deadlines impacted by this change. The extended deadlines apply to events occurring between March 1, 2020 and 60 days following the end of the National Emergency.

Event

Normal Deadline

Extension/Relief Period

Health and Dental Plan enrollment for a Life of Career Event such as marriage, birth of a child, spouse start/end of employment Within 30 days of the event The earlier of one year from the normal deadline (referenced to the left) or
30 days following the Outbreak Period End Date
Electing COBRA continuation coverage for health and/or dental Within 60 days following the date on which coverage terminates by reason of a Qualifying Event The earlier of one year from the normal deadline or
60 days following the Outbreak Period End Date
Commencing COBRA monthly premium payments At least 45 days following the date of the initial COBRA election The earlier of one year from the normal deadline or within 30 days following the Outbreak Period End Date
Filing a benefit claim under the plan’s claims procedure Within 2 years of the date charges for the service were incurred for BU Plans The earlier of one year from the normal deadline or within the Outbreak Period End Date
Respond to or appeal an adverse benefit determination under a group health plan or disability plan At least 180 days following receipt of the adverse determination The earlier of one year from the normal deadline or
at least 180 days following the Outbreak Period End Date