COVID-19 Testing and Healthcare Benefits FAQs

COVID-10 testing and healthcare benefits FAQs

In recent weeks, Congress and the IRS have acted to provide relief to Americans due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) health emergency. With the passage of the CARES Act, updates to HDHPs, HSAs and other measures, businesses, workers and third party administrators have a lot of questions about these changes. See the list below for answers to COVID-19 testing and other questions about employer-sponsored benefits.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) FAQs

Is there an extension of FSA grace periods or run out?

The FSA grace period (which usually runs to March 15) has not been extended.

However, the IRS published guidelines for FSA run out beginning with expenses incurred on or after March 1, 2020. Participants now have until 60 days after the “Outbreak Period” is over, or until further notice, to get reimbursed for eligible healthcare expenses.

Will I be able to use my Dependent Care FSA since my children are out of school?

There has been no official ruling on Dependent Care FSAs.

You cannot use the Dependent Care FSA to pay yourself for child care, nor can you pay another adult or person living in your household for child care.

Can I change my Dependent Care FSA election?

There are no new rules from recent legislation about Dependent Care FSAs (also known as DCAP). There are several qualifying life events that will allow you to change your Dependent Care FSA elections:

  • Change in employment status for you or your spouse
  • Update to marital status (marriage, divorce, or death of spouse)
  • Change to number of dependents (new child, adoption, death of dependent)
  • Loss of eligibility (i.e., dependent has 13th birthday)
  • Change in care provider, provider cost or change in coverage.

A reduction in hours or losing your job counts as a qualified life event; therefore, you may update your Dependent Care FSA elections. Conversely, you may also increase your contributions if you have not already maximized them if your child is unable to attend school and you have an increase in child care expenses.

Check your Summary Plan Description to see if you can spend down the account due to the layoff.

Health Savings Account (HSA) and HDHP FAQs

Since the tax filing deadline was extended to July 15, was the HSA contribution deadline also extended?

Yes. In a standard tax filing year, HSA owners can contribute for the previous year up to the tax filing deadline.

The IRS said that since the tax filing deadline for 2020 was moved to July 15, HSA owners have until that date to contribute for 2019 (up to the annual limit). See Question 21 here.

If my high deductible health plan (HDHP) covers coronavirus testing, will I still be able to contribute to my HSA?

Yes. The IRS permitted coronavirus testing as a preventative healthcare expense that can be covered by an HDHP without jeopardizing the plan’s status.

The CARES Act allows over-the-counter medications as eligible for purchase with an FSA or HSA. How do I pay for/get reimbursed for OTC purchases?

In order for you to buy OTC medications with your FSA, HRA or HSA, your company will have to first amend its plan. However, companies are not required to make this change.  

Currently, the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards (SIGIS) is working to update its approved inventory lists. Plus, it has to work with both national and independent retailers to implement the changes. It may take a few weeks or months for you to use your benefits card for these purchases.

If your company amends its plan, buy the items out-of-pocket and keep your receipts. Afterwards, you will have to work with your benefits administrator to file a claim form for reimbursement.

What types of menstrual care products were approved for eligible healthcare expenses?

According to the CARES Act, “the term ‘menstrual care product’ means a tampon, pad, liner, cup, sponge, or similar product used by individuals with respect to menstruation or other genital-tract secretions.’’

Transit, Commuter, and Parking Benefits FAQs

Can I change my Transit, Commuter or Parking benefit contributions?

Yes. You can change your Transit, Commuter, or Parking benefit contributions at any time (even in a regular benefits year).

What happens if I cannot use my benefits this year?

Transit, Commuter and Parking benefits have rollover; thus, you will be able to keep any unused funds in your account for future use.

COVID-19 Testing Mandate FAQs

From the Society of Professional Benefits Administrators (SPBA):

What is the COVID-19 testing requirement in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires ALL group health plans, self-funded or fully insured, other than those that just provide excepted health benefits, to provide coverage, without cost-sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management practices, for FDA-approved diagnostic tests to detect the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was subsequently signed into law and it expanded the coverage mandate to include tests:

  • Approved by the FDA;  
  • From a developer that has requested or intends to request emergency use authorization;
  • Developed in and authorized by a state that has notified HHS of its intention to review tests intended to diagnose COVID-19; or
  • Determined by HHS to be appropriate in guidance.

What is the effective date and end date of the testing requirement?

This testing requirement became effective on March 18, 2020 and will expire at the end of the declared Public Health Emergency.

Does the testing requirement apply to all self-funded plans, both ERISA and non-ERISA?

Yes. It applies to all group health plans with the exception of those providing excepted benefits.

What coverage of services is required related to COVID-19 testing?

The FFCRA also requires coverage of related services or items furnished to covered individuals in an office setting, telehealth, urgent care and emergency room if they lead to an order for testing and then only to the extent that they relate to the implementation or administration of the test or an evaluation to determine need for testing.

Telehealth FAQs

What does the FFCRA require for telehealth?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires plans to cover “Items and services furnished to an individual during health care provider office visits (which term in this paragraph includes in-person visits and telehealth visits), urgent care center visits, and emergency room visits that result in an order for or administration of an in vitro diagnostic product … but only to the extent such items and services relate to the furnishing or administration of such product or to the evaluation of such individual for purposes of determining the need of such individual for such product.”

If a group does not offer telehealth currently, do they need to add that benefit?

Under the FFCRA, plans will have to cover remote care services provided in relation to the administration of a COVID-19 test or the evaluation of determining the need to test the individual for COVID-19.

Are other telemedicine services outside of COVID-19 testing covered by an HDHP?

CARES Act allows, but does not require, first dollar coverage.

Paid Leave Guidelines

Emergency Paid Sick LeaveEmergency Family and Medical Leave
Effective DatesApril 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020
Covered EmployersEmployers with 500 or fewer employeesEmployers with 500 or fewer employees
Eligible EmployeesAll employees of covered employersEmployees of covered employers who have worked at least 30 days before the designated leave
Triggering EventThe employee is unable to work or telework because the employee:

–  Is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or

– a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
The employee is unable to work because they must care for a minor child because, due to a declared public health emergency related to COVID-19:

–  The child’s school or place of care has been closed

–  The child’s care provider (someone who receives compensation for providing care on a regular basis) is unavailable.
Leave80 hours for full time employees. Part time employees receive the average number of hours they work in a two-week period.12 weeks*
Payment AmountEmployees taking leave for their own COVID-19 exposure or symptoms receive full pay.
Employees taking leave to care for someone subject to quarantine or a child whose care provider is closed or unavailable receive 2/3 their regular pay.
The first two weeks may be unpaid. The remaining weeks are paid at 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay.

* The total available leave from both programs is 12 weeks. If an individual takes both emergency paid sick leave AND emergency FMLA leave, they are considered to run concurrently.

If you need to make changes to your elections or have further questions, please contact your HR department or benefits administrator.

DataPath, Inc. creates cloud-based administration solutions for FSA, HSA, HRA and COBRA management by third party administrators.

Home » Resources – News, Blogs, and More » COVID-19 Testing and Healthcare Benefits FAQs