HSA Clients: Ready for enrollment season?
HSA Clients: Ready for enrollment season?
Covid-19 | Employer Resources
Read the latest information to see how rule changes could impact your benefits.See our response for members
February 2, 2023
End of COVID National Emergency
On January 30, 2023, the White House announced that it plans to end the COVID-19 National Emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11, 2023. With this announcement, the 60-day period following the end of the national emergency is expected to begin on May 12, 2023, thus counting down the end of the COVID-19 Outbreak Period and certain ERISA health and welfare plan benefit deadlines that have been extended during this period will resume beginning July 11, 2023.
During the week of March 6, 2023, our teams will begin work to update reimbursement account (RA) plan run-out dates for impacted plans. You can expect to receive a communication from us if you have ERISA plans impacted by the end of the Outbreak Period. This will include more details around the changes and include a member email template for you to use in communicating changes to your employees.
Our internal teams will continue monitoring the situation and communicate to our partners, brokers, clients, and members if the federal government provides any additional information regarding the end of the COVID-19 Outbreak Period.
You can review the full compliance alert (released on February 2, 2023) here for the complete details on the White House announcement.
March 28, 2022
COVID-19 Outbreak Period Deadline Relief Continues
On February 18, 2022, President Biden again determined in a letter to Congress that it is necessary to further extend the national emergency period concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.1 This action follows Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra’s recent – but separate – declaration that the government would extend the public health emergency for COVID-19.
While this extension continues the ongoing tolling period calculations, it bears repeating that the following deadlines – on an individual-by-individual basis - will be extended for the duration of the Outbreak Period relief:
the 14-day deadline for plan administrators to provide COBRA election notices to qualified beneficiaries;
the 30-day period (or 60-day period, in some cases) to exercise HIPAA special enrollment rights in a group health plan following birth, adoption, or placement for adoption of a child; marriage, loss of other health coverage; or eligibility for a state premium assistance subsidy;
the 60-day deadline by which a participant or qualified beneficiary must provide notice of divorce or legal separation, a dependent child that ceases to be an eligible dependent under the terms of the plan), or a Social Security disability determination used to extend COBRA coverage;
the 60-day deadline in which to elect COBRA coverage;
Individuals electing COBRA outside of the initial 60-day election period (as referenced above) generally have one year and 105 days after the election notice is provided to make the initial premium payment; and individuals electing COBRA within the generally applicable 60-day election period have one year and 45 days after the date of their election to make the initial payment;2
the date by which monthly COBRA premium payments are due; and
the deadline under the plan by which participants may file a benefit claim (under the terms of the plan) and the deadlines for appealing an adverse benefit determination or requesting an external review.
Read the full compliance alert here.
March 21, 2022
Department of labor (DOL) issues guidance on COVID-19 outbreak period relief duration
On February 26, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 to confirm the position of both the DOL and the Department of the Treasury (collectively, the “Agencies”) concerning the calculation of the COVID-19 Outbreak Period plan deadline suspensions with regard to participants’ ability to enroll mid-year in group health plan coverage, elect and pay for COBRA continuation coverage, submit benefit claims, and file appeals for benefit benefits determinations.
Notice 2021-01 affirms that the relief introduced in May 2020 continues for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency period, but any period that is to be disregarded with respect to a certain plan deadline applying to a participant cannot extend beyond one year with respect to that participant. In other words, they have applied the one-year limitation to each impacted participant and event deadline. Therefore, the Agencies recommend that plans and issuers advise individuals not to seek reimbursement from a health FSA or HRA for the cost of OTC COVID-19 tests paid or reimbursed by the plan or issuer.
In Notice 2021-01, the DOL underscored President Biden’s determination and concurred the COVID-19 national emergency – and therefore the Outbreak Period – is still underway. While the ERISA and Code provisions expressly limit the maximum disregarded period for individual actions (whether those actions are “required or permitted”) to a period of one year from the date the individual action would otherwise have been required or permitted, this one-year period is applied on an individual-by-individual basis.
Review the Compliance Alert, including examples to illustrate how to apply the one-year period, here.
February 4, 2022
Tri-agencies clarify recent guidance on OTC COVID-19 tests and HRA/FSAs
On February 4, 2022, the Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) – in conjunction with the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury released new guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing the White House’s ongoing expansion of “Free At-Home Testing for Americans” in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the newest set of FAQs, the Agencies reiterate the general prohibition against individuals participating in a Flexible Spending Account (health FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) seeking reimbursement under one of these plans and having the health plan – which is now required to cover these OTC COVID-19 tests – pay for the same medical expense.
Therefore, the Agencies recommend that plans and issuers advise individuals not to seek reimbursement from a health FSA or HRA for the cost of OTC COVID-19 tests paid or reimbursed by the plan or issuer.
Review the newest set of FAQs here.
April 16, 2021
American Rescue Plan Act Update
On April 7, 2021, the DOL released guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the COBRA subsidy, as well as model notices that can be used when administering ARPA’s COBRA subsidy requirements. The DOL’s guidance includes:
FAQs about COBRA premium assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act: PDF
Model General Notice and COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice: PDF
Model Notice in Connection with Extended Election Period: PDF
Model Alternative Notice: PDF
Model Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance: PDF
Summary of COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: PDF
View our full compliance alert here. And take time to review the resources above to stay informed about ARPA and the COBRA Subsidy.
HealthEquity will continue to stay abreast of this topic and – as additional guidance is available – we will advise accordingly.
March 3, 2021
EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01
On February 26, 2021, the US Department of Labor (DOL) released Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 providing further guidance with respect to certain plan deadlines occurring during the COVID-19 National Emergency period.
In coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service, the DOL interprets the one-year maximum period is to be applied on a person-by-person basis. In short, the one-year period is calculated with respect to each member’s specific expiration date.Click for more
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Frequently Asked Questions
There have been a lot of changes during this past year as the nation deals with COVID-19. This list will hopefully help you find the answers you need regarding your health accounts and the recent changes.
Have more questions? Contact us.
What is HealthEquity doing in response to the emerging COVID-19 situation?
Our team members have been informed of symptoms and preventative measures, and advised to stay home if sick. Our people managers are prepared to support team members and coordinate remote work, if necessary.
We do not generally do business in the current high risk countries, but are restricting all business travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries at this time.
We are restricting all non-essential business travel in the US.
If a team member is planning to take a personal trip to a Level 2 or 3 country, we've aligned on the process for determining if and when it's safe for them to return to work.
we're committed to keeping our partners, employers, members and other stakeholders informed on our response and action plans should the situation escalate.
Can we expect any disruptions to our regular service? Will we still be able to make claims and access funds?
At this time, we anticipate no disruption or impact to our services, including our ability to respond to claims and disperse funds. Our Member Services team is large and geographically diverse. Our hundreds of team members work in centers across the country - including remotely.
What is HealthEquity doing to educate members about COVID-19?
Our team is reaching out to employees through email to share CDC tips on preventing illness. We've reminded employees that our Member Services team is available at any time should they have questions.
What can I do to help prepare my employees for coronavirus?
Your employees will also look to you for health benefits help. You might consider reaching out to your employees to make sure they have all necessary insurance and HSA, FSA or HRA information nearby.
The CDC has recommended that employees work from home if they are sick and to seek medical attention if they are experiencing flu or COVID-19 symptoms (or if they've been exposed to others experiencing these symptoms).
Are you still traveling to attend meetings and events?
If our partners and employers are still accepting visitors, we are attending essential meetings in person. We are implementing our work from home policy for our team members, so will evaluate all employer requests for in-person meetings at HealthEquity. we're adjusting to using technology - video conferencing, webinars and phone calls - provided we can facilitate meaningful discussions and meet our business objectives.
We are also responding to conference and event cancellations, and rescheduling or postponing meetings as deemed necessary. Our aim is to ensure our clients receive the same level of talent and service they require, while maintaining a Purple approach to the COVID 19 situation.
How will I know if anything changes?
HealthEquity is committed to keeping you informed as the situation develops. We will be diligent in contacting you and your employees directly should anything change, including threat level or affected services.
Are you moving to remote work and should I expect any changes to service levels?
We are transitioning to work from home for the health of our team members and good of our communities until further notice. Our Technology teams have implemented business continuity plans to enable team members to continue providing remarkable service without interruption. We will be monitoring activity in our communities to determine when and how team members should transition back to our sites.
Note: The FAQs above are provided to assist employers and plan sponsors with their research into the potential impacts of the recent IRS guidance. This is not legal advice, and the relief actions are complex and dynamic. As always, we strongly encourage employers and plan sponsors to consult their legal or benefits counsel for conclusive guidance on how the actions apply in their circumstances.