Ohio Permits Employers to Defer Health Insurance Premiums

The Ohio Department of Health today ordered health insurers to provide leeway to employers and employees to help meet the challenges of the coronavirus with regard to coverage and premium payments. The Order was made pursuant to Governor DeWine’s emergency declaration of March 9, 2020 and will remain in effect until the end of the emergency.


First, all insurers in Ohio are to provide their insureds in Ohio the option to defer premiums related to their health insurance coverage by up to 60 days, interest free, from each original premium due date.


Second, insurers are ordered to permit employers to continue covering employees under a group health plan even if the employees would be otherwise ineligible due to a decrease in hours worked or an applicable “actively at work” clause.  This will permit employers that have had a slow-down to still provide benefits to their employees.  In addition, insurers may not raise premiums on employers who have had an enrollment decrease due to COVID-19.  This is particularly important as generally a decrease in enrollment will see a significant increase in premiums, especially for small businesses.


Third, as long as a health plan has at least one active employee enrolled, all former employees may receive continuation coverage under with COBRA (20 or more employees) or Ohio’s state continuation coverage rules (if under 20 employees).


Finally, employees who lose coverage are eligible for a special open enrollment period to enroll in new coverage, either on or off the Federal Exchanges.  If an employee enrolls in coverage off the Exchange, insurers were ordered to waive normal special enrollment procedures so any coverage will begin the day after the employee lost employment.


The rules should help alleviate some of the financial burden from COVID-19 and help employees maintain their health coverage during this health crisis.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact any of Graydon’s Employee Benefits team.


As always, we will continue to monitor and update as the situation changes.