CMS Issues Guidance on Extending Deadlines for Health Insurance Premiums Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

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On March 24, 2020, the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, an agency within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), released guidance titled “Payment and Grace Period Flexibilities Associated with the COVID-19 National Emergency.” This guidance applies to health insurance companies selling qualified health plans (QHPs) and stand-alone dental plans who may wish to extend payment deadlines for initial and ongoing premium payments during the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States. This guidance document announced that CMS will be exercising enforcement discretion to permit these plans to extend their payment deadlines to delay coverage terminations for non-payment of premiums. However, CMS will only exercise enforcement discretion if a health plan’s payment deadlines are extended with permission from the state regulatory authority that oversees the plan’s operations. Additionally, this flexibility will only be granted to plans sold through either a Federally-Facilitated Exchange or a State-Based Exchange on the Federal Platform and for premium payments due during the COVID-19 national emergency. Alongside this announcement, CMS encouraged State-Based Exchanges to take a similar approach.

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