Archived Insight | October 20, 2021

The National Public Health Emergency Extended into January

Effective October 18, 2021, the federal government extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for at least an additional 90 days, until January 16, 2022. That will be nearly two years after the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initially declared the public health emergency.

A Tired Female Paramedic

This is the seventh extension of the emergency, which the HHS secretary declared on January 31, 2020 (retroactive to January 27, 2020). The secretary could terminate the public health emergency earlier than January 16, 2022 or extend it again.

Why this matters

This public emergency declaration is important to health plan sponsors because it determines the period during which group health plans and insurers must pay for COVID-19 tests and related services without charging cost sharing. In addition, non-grandfathered plans must cover vaccines in network as a preventive benefit, but during the public emergency must also cover them on an out-of-network basis. To learn more, see our December 15, 2020 insight, “Most Plans Must Cover COVID-19 Vaccine Without Cost Sharing.”

Plan sponsors should ensure plans are administered consistently with the requirements for the public health emergency. 

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This page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice. You are encouraged to discuss the issues raised here with your legal, tax and other advisors before determining how the issues apply to your specific situations.