SHALE Oil & Gas Magazine
Over the last nine months, employers have adjusted to an unprecedented number of changes to their operations. In an article for SHALE Oil & Gas Magazine, Nelson Mullins partner Ann Murray explains the COVID-related mandates affecting employer-provided medical plans. She writes, “If not done so already, employers should work now with their brokers and benefit advisors to confirm their compliance for 2020 and 2021, and they should take advantage of available opportunities.”
Murray explains three of the most talked about mandates affecting plans include: 1) the requirement to cover diagnostic tests without charging employees; 2) coverage for certain COVID-19 vaccines and treatments; and, 3) the suspension of most deadlines for coverage change, COBRA continuation, and claims appeals during the pandemic period. While these mandates have been in effect for some time, Murray cautions that “insurers of fully insured plans should automatically implement these mandates, but employers with self-insured plans may need to confirm that necessary updates are made proactively.” In all cases, employees must be timely notified of the changes.
In addition to these mandates, employers can also take advantage of opportunities like the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), and health flexible spending accounts (FSA) to reimburse over-the-counter medications and supplies (OTCs) purchased in 2020 and later. High deductible health plans (HDHPS) may also pay for 2020 and 2021 telehealth services without jeopardizing employees’ abilities to contribute to HSAs and, for those employees who failed to enroll in medical coverage for 2021, a second-mid year opportunity can be made available to add medical coverage or health FSA. Employers can also allow employees to change from one medical coverage option to another under their plan or drop medical coverage if they have found qualifying coverage elsewhere.
The benefits of these changes are many, according to Murray, who reminds employees that “while employer-provided medical plans may not provide the same kind of dollar savings or attract the media attention that Paycheck Protection Act loans garnered, they could still have a meaningful impact on the workforce.”
These materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.