Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

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[Guidance Overview]

CARES Act Provisions Affecting Welfare Benefit Plans

"[1] Over-the-counter drugs and medicines may be reimbursable from FSAs and HSAs ... [2] Employers can pay employees' student loans on a tax-free basis ... [3] COVID-19 testing and services must be provided without cost sharing ... [4] Telehealth ... [5] Out-of-network providers reimbursement."

Stevens & Lee


Enhanced Industry-Wide Directory of COVID-19/Coronavirus Compliance Information: Now Includes Pre-Recorded Webcasts

BenefitsLink has enhanced our online directory about the effect of COVID-19/coronavirus on employee benefit plans. Now you can view pre-recorded webcasts (in addition to an industry-wide list of upcoming webcasts). Most are free! Learn more

[Guidance Overview]

Group Health Plan and Cafeteria Plan Issues Related to COVID-19

"[1] Can employers allow changes to employee elections under their ... section 125 cafeteria plans to reflect changes in circumstances due to COVID-19? ... [2] Are there special privacy issues under [HIPAA] that apply to an employer's group health plan with respect to COVID-19? ... [3] Has the IRS changed the employer shared responsibility payment (ESRP) rules under the ACA for employers that reduce employees' hours of work because of the COVID-19 emergency? ... [4] Has the IRS extended the March 31, 2020 deadline for filing ACA Forms 1094-C and 1095-C regarding coverage provided in 2019?"

Hanson Bridgett LLP

[Guidance Overview]

CARES Act Impacts for Employer-Sponsored Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

"The CARES Act mandates that all providers of COVID-19 diagnostic tests publish the price of the testing services online. Providers who fail to comply with the publishing requirement are subject to a fine of up to $300 per day.... For plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021, a plan will not fail to be a high deductible health plan [HDHP] (and a participant will not be disqualified from contributing to an HSA) by reason of failing to charge a deductible for 'telehealth and other remote care services.' "


[Guidance Overview]

CARES Act Expands Requirements for Health Plans

"Plans are already obligated to cover both evidence-based items and services with ratings of 'A' or 'B' and immunizations with recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.... Under the ACA, plans normally have a year or more to implement newly recommended preventive services. The effect of the new requirement is to clarify that health plans must cover these services within 15 business days after the date a recommendation is made if the services are intended to prevent or mitigate coronavirus. This means that health plans must stay alert and informed throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, as preventive services can be expected to receive approval on a rolling basis as new evidence emerges."

Ice Miller LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Healthcare Employers Spared Burden of FFCRA Under DOL Guidance

"DOL's Q&A greatly expanded the definitions of healthcare provider and emergency responder to permit employers to exclude a broad cross-section of employees from the leave rights ... DOL encourages employers of healthcare providers and emergency responders to be 'judicious' when excluding employees from the leave rights under the Act because of the overarching need to minimize the spread of the virus."

Holland & Hart LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Guidance Will Impact Ohio Employment-Based Health Plans

"Insurers must permit employers to continue to offer coverage to employees who otherwise would lose eligibility for coverage when they experience a reduction in hours or do not meet an 'actively at work' requirement.... Insurers are not permitted to raise group plan rates in response to a decrease in covered lives as a result of COVID-19. Insurers must permit policyholders (including employer plan sponsors) a 60-day premium grace period from each premium due date, during which no interest will accrue.... As long as one employee remains actively employed and enrolled in a group health plan, the normal COBRA continuation coverage (both federal and state COBRA) notice and election procedures will continue to apply."


[Guidance Overview]

Ohio Issues FAQs on COVID-19 Health Insurance Flexibility for Employers

"Under Bulletin 2020-03, the [Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI)] lifted certain restrictions for group health plans, limited premium increases, and expanded the rules for the continuation of coverage.... [T]he ODI explained the Bulletin applies only to fully insured employer group health plans and not self-insured plans, except Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements and several non-federal governmental plans.... [T]he Bulletin also applies to supplemental plans and limited duration plans issued to employers."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

New York State Releases FAQs on New COVID-19 Leave Law

"[L]eave periods under the Law refer to calendar days, not business days, but when granting paid leave, employers are required to pay the amount of money that the employee would have otherwise received during the five- or 14-day period.... [O]nly employees who are under a mandatory or precautionary quarantine order, and are not able to work from home through remote access or other means, are eligible for leave under the Law.... The FAQs also address the Law's interaction with other forms of paid leave to which an employee may be entitled."

Epstein Becker Green

Employers Unable to Submit Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to IRS Due to AIR System Being Down

"Over the past few days Accord Systems has experienced significant trouble trying to submit the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the [IRS ACA Information Returns (AIR) system] on our clients' behalf. While we have experienced difficulties in previous years, 2019 has presented a host of unique problems.... The remainder of this article summarizes what we learned and discusses what an employer should do in light of the March 31, 2020 deadline to electronically submit the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS."


COVID-19 and Impact on Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts

"How does COVID-19 affect an HSA? ... Are expenses related to COVID-19 eligible for reimbursement in a HCFSA? ... Can an employee change their HCFSA annual election due to COVID-19 issues? ... Can an employee change their DCFSA annual election due to COVID-19 issues? ... Can dependent care expenses be incurred and eligible for reimbursement if a parent is home and not working during a mandated employer work suspension? ... What if an employee is working remotely and incurs day care costs?"


Health Insurance Providers Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

"[T]he number of [COVI-19] cases in the United States continues to increase. Here are some ways health insurance providers are taking action."

America's Health Insurance Plans [AHIP]

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick The Impact of COVID-19 on Employer-Sponsored Benefit Programs

"Among the many ways that COVID-19 has affected Americans and U.S. businesses, employers are trying to figure out how to manage and administer their employee benefit programs in light of the pandemic. [These 15] questions and answers [are] in response to what companies have been asking about how the virus is affecting their benefit programs."

Tucker Ellis LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick COVID-19 Employee Benefit and Executive Compensation Questions and Answers

"[1] Should benefits coverage continue while an employee is on an unpaid furlough? ... [2] If an employee is off work because he or she has been quarantined due to potential exposure to COVID-19, does this qualify as a disability for purposes of an employer's short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) plans? ... [3] What tax-free payments can an employer make to its employees as 'qualified disaster relief'? ... [4] If an employer sponsors a nonqualified deferred compensation plan, could the employer suspend, reduce, or eliminate the employer's contribution to, or terminate, the plan during the year? ... [5] Can employees' contributions to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan be suspended during the year, or can they take hardship withdrawals from the plan? ... [6] Would expenses incurred by employees qualify as 'financial hardships' eligible for hardship withdrawals under a qualified retirement plan? ... [7] Can a plan sponsor suspend, reduce, or eliminate matching and other contributions under qualified retirement plans (including safe harbor plans) mid-year? ... [8] Can a plan sponsor freeze or terminate its defined benefit or cash balance plan? ... [9] What is the effect of the current market and interest rate down turn on the funded status of defined benefit pension plans?"

Haynes and Boone, LLP

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Health Plan Coverage After Rehire Under CARES Act

"Fully-insured plan covers employees who are 'actively at work' An employer who receives a CARES Act loan has employees on the payroll who are not actively working because of the shut down of non-essential businesses. Would the employer be in technical violation of the medical insurance policy if coverage continues for the employees? Is there anything in the CARES Act about this?"

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Extension of Form 5500 Filing Deadline Due to COVID-19?

"I have been monitoring both the IRS and DOL/EBSA websites to see if any special extensions will be given towards the Form 5500s. I realize that this not a natural disaster such as hurricane; nevertheless our situation with COVID-19 has brought many businesses to a complete stop. Has there been any hint of a special extension?"

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

Text of DOL Q&As on FFCRA, Including Clarifications and New Q&As
Wage and Hour Division [WHD], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL], Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 644-4146

Lois Baker, J.D., President
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

Article submission: Online form, or email to

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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