Covid-19 | Employer Resources

Regulatory updates

Read the latest information to see how rule changes could impact your benefits.

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Latest Update

July 21, 2023

IRS Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Expenses for HDHPs

On June 23, 2023, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Notice 2023-37 (the “Notice”).1 This notice relates to how High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) can cover COVID-19-related expenses before the minimum deductible is satisfied for plan years ending on or before December 31, 2024. The Notice also clarifies that the preventive care safe harbor under the Internal Revenue Code’s Health Savings Account (HSA) eligibility rules does not include COVID-19 screenings, and that if the United States Preventive Services Task Force were to recommend COVID-19 screenings with an “A” or “B” rating, then that testing would be treated as preventive care under the HSA eligibility rules, regardless of whether coverage without cost-sharing is required under the ACA’s preventive services mandate.

Previously, in response to the COVID-19 National Health Emergency, the IRS published Notice 2020-152 which allowed HDHPs to provide benefits associated with testing and treatment of COVID-19 either without a deductible or with one that was below the required minimal annual deductible. This allowed employees to stay eligible to make contributions to their HSAs even if medical expenses related to COVID-19 testing or treatment were paid by the HDHP.

Due to the end of the COVID-19 emergency, the Notice applies for plan years ending on or before December 31, 2024, and no longer allows an HDHP to cover testing and treatment expenses related to COVID-19 without a deductible or with a deductible below the annual minimum deductible (for individual and family coverage). A calendar year, HDHP, therefore, will be required to apply the cost of COVID-19-related expenses to the plan deductible beginning with the 2025 plan year. Non-calendar HDHP plan years have even less time before the expiration of the relief.

HealthEquity will continue to monitor Notice 2023-37 developments around future guidance as COVID-19 relief continues to unwind.

You can view the full compliance alert (released July 21, 2023) here for the complete details.

June 27, 2023

Compliance Reminders for Nondiscrimination Testing and Form 5500 Filing Obligations

With compliance on everyone’s to-do list, HealthEquity has provided a helpful reminder about two requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) for most consumer-directed benefit plans: nondiscrimination testing and Form 5500 filing obligations.

Nondiscrimination testing ensures plans are not designed to discriminate in favor of highly paid employees. The tests can be organized into three basic groupings: Eligibility, Availability of Benefits, and Utilization. In addition, plan sponsors who meet certain requirements and who provide welfare plans (i.e., provide benefits such as medical, dental, disability, etc.) are also required to file Form 5500, with some key exceptions.

HealthEquity is available to help answer questions or complete nondiscrimination testing or Form 5500 services for HealthEquity administered benefit plans.

You can view the full compliance alert (released June 23, 2023) here for the complete details.

May 16, 2023

2024 HSA Index Update Summary

On May 16, 2023, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2023-23 providing the new Health Savings Account (HSA) index figures for 2024. The updated figures for 2024 include:

Minimum deductible amounts for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) in 2024 will be $1,600 for individuals and $3,200 for families. Maximum HSA Contribution levels in 2024 will be $4,150 for individuals and $8,300 for families, with a catch-up contribution of $1,000 for individuals 55 years of age and older. Maximum HDHP out-of-pocket expenses (excluding premiums) for 2024 will be $8,050 for individuals and $16,100 for families.

Revenue Procedure 2023-23 also provides that the maximum amount that may be made newly available for the plan year in an excepted Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is $2,100

You can review the full compliance alert (released on May 16, 2023) here for the complete details, including link to the FAQs mentioned above.

April 19, 2023

White House Signs Bill Terminating COVID-19 National Emergency Period; Outbreak Period End Date Remains July 10, 2023

On April 10, 2023, President Joe Biden signed into law a resolution officially ending the COVID-19 National Emergency effective that date. This date is almost a month earlier than the May 11, 2023 date the White House had previously announced for the end of both the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and National Emergency periods. On March 29, 2023, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the “Agencies”) issued the "FAQs about Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Implementation Part 58"  announcing the Outbreak Period will end on July 10, 2023, which is 60 days after May 11, 2023. The DOL has provided informal, verbal guidance affirming this end date for the Outbreak Period, the change to the National Emergency end date notwithstanding.

You can review the full compliance alert (released on April 19, 2023) here for the complete details, including link to the FAQs mentioned above.

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.3This 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;4

  • 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.

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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.

Compliance updates
IRS Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Expenses for HDHPs Compliance Reminders for Nondiscrimination Testing and Form 5500 Filing Obligations White House Signs Bill Terminating COVID-19 National Emergency Period; Outbreak Period End Date Remains July 10, 2023 End of National Emergency – May 11th 2023 Medical Mileage Rate Adjustment Reminders for Cafeteria Plans Health Savings Account Index Figures COVID-19 Outbreak Period Deadline Relief Continues Department of Labor (DOL) Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Outbreak Period Relief Duration Tri-Agencies Clarify Recent Guidance on OTC COVID-19 Tests Guidance on OTC COVID-19 Tests; 2022 Medical Mileage Rates and PCORI Fees 2022 Index Figures End-of-2021 Health Plan Reminders Clarification Regarding COBRA Election Subsidy and Substantiation Reminder Further Guidance Regarding COBRA Premium Assistance IRS Notice 2021-46 EEOC & COVID-19 Guidance IRS Notice 2021-31 Compliance Update PPE IRS Notice 2021-15 Follow-up American Rescue Plan Act 2021 EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Health Savings Accounts CARES Act of 2020 News From The Benefits World DOL Relief COBRA Model Notices IRS Guidance DOL/IRS Guidance - COBRA Next Steps DOL/IRS Guidance - FSA/HRA Next Steps IRS Notice 2020-35 ARPA DOL Model Notices and FAQ
Resources
cdc.gov/coronavirus COVID-19 Commuter Response Consolidations Appropriations Act - Take Action
Communications
A message from President and CEO Jon Kessler "Respond with Confidence" Webinar Recording April 21