With the recent expiration of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Biden Administration is implementing a new plan called the “Path Out of the Pandemic.” This includes a number of proposed initiatives to help move the country along a path toward recovery. Some of the action items that will apply to employers and employees are discussed here.
While many Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (approximately 58% as of this writing), President Biden’s plan aims to increase that number:
- Private-sector employers with 100+ employees will have to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis. This is expected to impact over 80 million workers. These employers will also be required to provide paid time off for the time it takes workers to get vaccinated or recover from post-vaccination side effects.
- By Executive Order, all employees in the federal executive branch already must be vaccinated. This standard will be extended to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government, applying to about 2.5 million people.
- Healthcare workers in settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid payments will be required to receive both COVID-19 vaccinations. This applies to over 17 million health care workers employed by about 50,000 providers.
The “Path Out of the Pandemic” plan also aims to increase the amount of COVID testing in a number of ways. These include mobilizing testing production, making at-home tests more affordable, expanding free pharmacy testing and sending rapid tests to food banks and community health centers.
While “Path Out of the Pandemic” is still in development, employers will need to determine if and how they are impacted, and figure out how to legally meet all the new requirements.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA) FAQs
Is there an extension of FSA grace periods or run out?
Under normal circumstances, the FSA grace period for most plans expires on March 15th of the following calendar year. However, as employees are more likely to have unused FSA balances at the end of 2021, the IRS is providing employers with the option to amend their plans. As per Notice 2021-15, they are temporarily able to provide more flexibility for the carryover of unused amounts for this plan year.
Will I be able to use my Dependent Care FSA since my children are out of school?
The same IRS action, Notice 2021-15, applies to Dependent Care Assistance Programs (DCAP or DCFSA). In addition to more flexibility for carryover, the IRS has increased flexibility in dealing with dependents who “aged out” of the normal eligibility during the pandemic.
Can I change my elections?
Notice 2021-15 also allows mid-year election changes for plan years ending 2021 for health FSAs and DCAPs. See the notice text for more details.
Health Savings Account (HSA) and HDHP FAQs
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.
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. Or purchases can be made with a debit card tied to your account, if that option is available to you.
What types of menstrual care products have been 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.
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.