FAQs: Employer Benefits, COVID-19 Testing, and More

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress and the IRS have recently acted to provide relief to American worker and companies. With the passage of the CARES Act, updates to HDHPs, HSAs and other measures, there are a lot of questions about these changes. See 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?

No. The FSA grace period (which usually runs to March 15) has not been extended. FSA run out period, which generally lasts 90 days after the plan year begins, was not extended.

Can l use my DCAP since my children are out of school/daycare?

As of April 15, 2020, there has been no new legislation or rule changes on Dependent Care Assistance Plans (DCAPs), also known as Dependent Care FSAs. You are not allowed to use a DCAP 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 DCAP election?

The IRS allows people to make changes to their Dependent Care FSA elections under several qualifying life events, including:

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

If you experienced a layoff, you may be able to spend down your account. Check your Summary Plan Description for more information.

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. 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.

Can I update my HSA elections for 2020?

Yes. You can change your HSA election at any time for any reason.

If my HDHP covers coronavirus testing, can I still contribute to my HSA?

Yes. The IRS allows high deductible health plans (HDHPs) to cover coronavirus testing without altering the plan’s status.

Eligible Healthcare Expenses FAQs

How do I pay for/get reimbursed for OTC medication 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 plan approves these expenses, buy the items out-of-pocket and keep your receipts to file a claim for reimbursement.

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.

Which menstrual care products were approved as eligible expenses?

The CARES Act states, “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 update your Transit, Commuter, or Parking benefit contributions at any time (even in a regular benefits year).

What happens if I cannot use my benefits?

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.