Benefits Q&A: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Special Enrollment

September 7, 2022

Is the HIPAA special enrollment under American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) still in effect due to the pandemic? Julie Athey answers Septembers Q&A.

Benefits Q&A: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Special Enrollment


If my memory serves me correctly, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allowed for HIPAA special enrollment periods to be extended due to the pandemic. Is that still in effect? I don’t recall where things stand with some of the COVID relief provisions that were passed.


You are correct that under the ARPA, employees were given extra time to elect health coverage after an event that entitles them to a special enrollment period under HIPAA. The law provides that the extension will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the National Emergency, collectively referred to as the “Outbreak Period.” The National Emergency is currently set to run through February 2023.

Until the National Emergency is over, employees who experience an event that triggers HIPAA special enrollment rights will be able to elect coverage for up to a year after their initial deadline for doing so (unless the Outbreak Period ends first).

For example, an employee who lost coverage through her spouse’s employer on September 1, 2022, would normally have until September 30, 2022, to enroll in the health plan offered by her employer. The COVID extension allows the employee until September 30, 2023, to enroll unless the Outbreak Period ends before then. If the National Emergency ends as currently scheduled on February 28, 2023, the employee’s extended special enrollment period would end on April 29, 2023.

Finally, note that although the National Emergency has been extended through February 2023, it could be declared over before then (but I don’t think that’s likely).

About The Author

Julie Athey, J.D.

Julie Athey, J.D.
Email As Director of Compliance & Legal, Benefits, Julie has more than 20 years of experience in compliance and law. Julie provides in-depth hands-on compliance training, advice and consulting for benefits and HR professionals. She has authored numerous manuals for HR professionals – including FMLA Compliance: Practical Solutions for HR and Wage and Hour Compliance: Practical Solutions for HR. Julie is also a frequent presenter at seminars, webinars and audio conferences on a variety of benefits, employment law and human resources topics.