Coronavirus Update – 3-30-20

Here are a few updates for you today: 


Are employees impacted by the shelter in place order eligible for the expansion of FMLA and/or sick leave? 
Miller Johnson covered this item during their webinar last week, but have since gone into more detail on their website.  In short, if someone is simply unable to work due to the shelter in place order or business reasons as a result of the coronavirus, they most likely are not eligible for the FMLA expansion or sick leave.  That said, they are eligible for the expanded unemployment benefits from the CARE act or their employer may be able to obtain a loan through the SBA (and local lenders) to keep them on the payroll during this crisis.  
Impacts of the CARES Act on employer health plans:
Miller Johnson has done a great job outlining the impacts on employer health plans both tied to the coronavirus/COVID-19 and otherwise and we encourage you to take a look at it.  
A few key items:

  • The CARES Act clarifies previous requirements from the FFCRA that plans cover telemedicine (a broad term, in this care more than a “tele-doc” type service) for items related to COVID-19.  In short, a HSA plan will not lose qualified status for covering all telemedicine at 100%.
  • Health plans must cover testing used to diagnose COVID-19 at 100%. 
  • A fix for a significant compliant related to the ACA was also included.  FSA/HSA participants will now be able to use those dollars to pay for over the counter medications without a prescription.  The expansion also includes menstrual care products as well. 

Finally, in follow up to my email Friday about the impacts of the coronavirus/COVID-19 on future health care costs I have some additional information for you.  

  • press release from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP, a Political Action Committee) outlined what many commercial health plans are doing in response to COVID-19.  While some of the items required due to new legislation, some of the actions are concerning to those of us who help employers effectively and efficiently manage health plans.  For example, BCBS Association members are taking the following action: 
    • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced today that its network of 36 independent and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies will waive prior authorizations and increase coverage for COVID-19….
  • This is noteworthy as ultimately COVID-19 isn’t any more unique than many other health conditions and while it certainly feels good to throw everything at this, a well managed plan shouldn’t throw common sense out the window either.  Self-funded employers may want to talk to their plan administrator to make sure their actions align with the objectives of the employer.  
  • Aetna, Humana and Cigna have also announced that they are waiving all patient out of pocket expenses related to COVID-19.  Again while this feels good, ultimately someone is going to have to pay for those expenses and it isn’t going to be the publicly traded companies.  It isn’t really their money that they are spending, it is that of their customers.  We would certainly understand if an employer elected to follow suit, but we encourage you to confirm with your stop-loss carrier (if you are self-funded) that this won’t impact any potential reimbursements.  

Please let us know if there is anything that we can do to be of assistance to you, we are here to help.