CARES Act Makes Changes for Health Plans
President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law to provide $2.2 trillion in federal funding to address the COVID-19 crisis. The CARES Act makes a variety of changes affecting health plans. These changes include:
- Expanding the types of coronavirus testing that all health plans and health insurance issuers must cover without cost-sharing (such as deductibles, copayments or coinsurance) or prior authorization;
- Accelerating the process that will require health plans and issuers to cover preventive services and vaccines related to COVID-19;
- Allowing telehealth and other remote care services to be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met, without affecting the HDHP’s compatibility with health savings accounts (HSAs) (applicable for HDHP plan years beginning on or before Dec. 31, 2021); and
- Treating over-the-counter (OTC) medications, along with menstrual care products, as qualified medical expenses that may be paid for using HSAs or other tax-advantaged arrangements, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
Employers that sponsor group health plans should become familiar with the CARES Act changes for their plans. While many of the changes are mandatory, there are some discretionary changes that employers can decide whether to make (in consultation with their issuers or benefits administrators). Any health plan changes should be communicated to plan participants.
As the pandemic develops and the CARES Act provisions are rolled out, look for more relevant guidance from American Health & Wellness Group in the near future.