Employers: See our response to COVID-19 |
Members: See how COVID-19 impacts your accounts

COVID-19 Information

HealthEquity's commitment to serve all members, partners, clients and team members remains steadfast. As we diligently monitor the global outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we've created this page to provide you with real-time, accurate updates on our organization's response. We will continue using this location to share new information and resources, as warranted by the rapidly changing nature of this situation.

CARES Act of 2020

The $2 trillion appropriations bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law by President Trump on Friday, March 27, 2020 brings emergency assistance and additional health care provisions to Americans affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Included in the CARES Act are provisions of particular interest to participants in health savings accounts (HSAs), healthcare flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

Our teams continue to monitor all the news related to the impact of COVID-19 and the CARES Act on consumer-directed benefits (CDBs). The frequently asked questions (FAQs) below will help to answer your questions about CDBs in this rapidly changing environment. Please check back often as we will regularly update this page with new information and resources.

Department of Labor (DOL) Issues COVID-19 Relief

On April 28, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) announced the time periods in which members can submit claims for coverage, elect and pay for COBRA continuation coverage, enroll in group health plan coverage, and file appeals for adverse benefit determinations are extended. The EBSA also provided guidance allowing additional time in which a group health plan sponsor or plan administrator can provide certain notices, disclosures, or other documents. Please see the FAQs below for more information.

IRS Issues COVID-19 Guidance

On May 12, 2020, the Department of the Treasury (the Treasury) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published two notices as part of ongoing relief efforts related to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). These notices offer guidance for employers to allow additional flexibility with respect to their section 125 cafeteria plans, Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (health FSAs) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangements (dependent care FSAs) during the 2020 calendar year.

Frequently asked questions

Note: The following is for informational purposes only and may not contain the latest updates. Please review the CDC website for the most up-to-date information. It is not intended as medical or legal advice. For legal advice, please consult with your legal counsel.

Q: What is HealthEquity doing in response to the emerging COVID-19 situation?
A:

  • Our team members have been informed of symptoms and preventative measures, and advised to stay home if sick. Our people managers are prepared to support team members and coordinate remote work, if necessary.
  • We do not generally do business in the current high risk countries, but are restricting all business travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries at this time.
  • We are restricting all non-essential business travel in the US.
  • If a team member is planning to take a personal trip to a Level 2 or 3 country, we've aligned on the process for determining if and when it's safe for them to return to work.
  • we're committed to keeping our partners, employers, members and other stakeholders informed on our response and action plans should the situation escalate.

Q: Can we expect any disruptions to our regular service? Will we still be able to make claims and access funds?
A: At this time, we anticipate no disruption or impact to our services, including our ability to respond to claims and disperse funds. Our Member Services team is large and geographically diverse. Our hundreds of team members work in centers across the country - including remotely.

Q: What is HealthEquity doing to educate members about COVID-19?
A: Our team is reaching out to employees through email to share CDC tips on preventing illness.

we've reminded employees that our Member Services team is available at any time should they have questions.

Q: What can I do to help prepare my employees for coronavirus?
A: Your employees will also look to you for health benefits help. You might consider reaching out to your employees to make sure they have all necessary insurance and HSA, FSA or HRA information nearby.

The CDC has recommended that employees work from home if they are sick and to seek medical attention if they are experiencing flu or COVID-19 symptoms (or if they've been exposed to others experiencing these symptoms).

Q: Are you still traveling to attend meetings and events?
A: If our partners and employers are still accepting visitors, we are attending essential meetings in person. We are implementing our work from home policy for our team members, so will evaluate all employer requests for in-person meetings at HealthEquity. we're adjusting to using technology - video conferencing, webinars and phone calls - provided we can facilitate meaningful discussions and meet our business objectives.

We are also responding to conference and event cancellations, and rescheduling or postponing meetings as deemed necessary. Our aim is to ensure our clients receive the same level of talent and service they require, while maintaining a Purple approach to the COVID 19 situation.

Q: How will I know if anything changes?
A: HealthEquity is committed to keeping you informed as the situation develops. We will be diligent in contacting you and your employees directly should anything change, including threat level or affected services.

Q: Are you moving to remote work and should I expect any changes to service levels?
A: We are transitioning to work from home for the health of our team members and good of our communities until further notice. Our Technology teams have implemented business continuity plans to enable team members to continue providing remarkable service without interruption. We will be monitoring activity in our communities to determine when and how team members should transition back to our sites.

Q: Taxpayers now have until July 15 to file their taxes. Can members contribute to their 2019 HSA funds up until the July deadline?
A: Yes, contributions may be made to an HSA or Archer MSA, for a particular year, at any time during the year or by the due date for filing your return for that year. Because the due date for filing Federal income tax returns is now July 15, 2020, under this relief, you may make contributions to your HSA or Archer MSA for 2019 at any time up to July 15, 2020. See https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/filing-and-payment-deadlines-questions-and-answers for more details.

Q: Can employers provide telemedicine, testing and treatment below the deductible and with reduced or no copays without jeopardizing employees' eligibility to make contributions for an HSA?
A: Yes, the CARES Act provides for reimbursement for services for "telehealth and other remote care services" below the deductible and will be permitted in an HSA-qualified health plan. This provision is temporary and effective for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021. Expenses are eligible under FSA, HRA and HSA plans.

Q: How does the CARES Act change over-the-counter (OTC) and menstrual care products?
A: The CARES Act has removed the requirement for prescriptions (Rx) in order to reimburse over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines, effective January 1, 2020 with no expiration date. In addition, it newly allows for the reimbursement of menstrual care products.

Q: Parents are now working from home (due to an employer mandate) and may decide they want to care for their child from home instead of sending/paying for daycare. What is the protocol/process for participants who request Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) change in status due to telework (due to change in need for daycare or daycare closing)?
A: The DCFSA election change rules are very broad. Employees may change their status if a there's a change in the child-care provider. The change must be consistent with the reason for the change. For example, the provider is no longer providing the care (i.e., summer day camp cancels or care is no longer needed) the election can be reduced or eliminated. There should be no need for additional guidance on these due to COVID-19, but we'll continue to watch for updates.

Q: I would like to extend the grace period in a FSA or elect carryover after the end of the plan year to protect FSA participants from losing funds.
A: The 2.5 month grace period is a statutory requirement. Employees may incur expenses during this time. The runout period can be extended (a longer time to submit expenses incurred), but the grace period cannot be extended at this time.

Q: Can employers allow participants to start or change an FSA election?
A: Unfortunately, a change in a person's health is not a reason to change an election or enroll in a healthcare FSA. Only a verifiable "change of status" may allow employees to change their initial elections into the healthcare FSA.

Q: Are employers/plan administrators required to take any action at this time with regard to their COBRA continuant and/or qualified beneficiary populations?
A: Currently, neither the IRS nor the DOL have issued specific guidance outlining any relief provisions for COBRA administration or deadlines related to COVID-19. The ruling agencies may issue subsequent guidance providing additional clarification for matters directly related to health plan administration.

Q: Are COBRA deadlines extended?
A: Some employers operating businesses directly affected by COVID-19 may find their administrative efforts impeded due to - for example - social distancing resulting in pronounced teleworking programs. Currently, there are no specific extensions of COBRA plan administrative deadlines (e.g., dates for providing COBRA general or election notices). Employers and plan fiduciaries should continue to take reasonable measures and make prudent accommodations, to the greatest extent possible, to prevent losses of benefits and otherwise act in the interest of their plan participants.

Q: What can employers do in the meantime with respect to their COBRA population?
A: Employers wishing to take additional measures or grant concessions to their impacted qualified beneficiaries should consult their plan documents, established policies and procedures, and confer with counsel when appropriate. Should a client choose to take specific action, we can work diligently with them to execute their instructions (we will rely upon their determinations concerning any such actions related to their health plan administration). If any further guidance is issued providing explicit instructions (for example, instructions from the ruling agencies directing plans to disregard - when calculating applicable deadlines - the days between Date X and Date Y), we will prepare additional talking points and compliance alerts to help facilitate these actions.

Q: What is the relief?
A: For group health plans subject to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code, the time periods in which members can submit claims for coverage, elect and pay for COBRA continuation coverage, enroll in group health plan coverage, and file appeals for adverse benefit determinations are extended. The deadline extension is through the "Outbreak Period".

Q: What is the Outbreak period?
A: The "Outbreak Period" is defined as the period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending 60 days after the date on which the federal government declares the COVID-19 national emergency has ended (which has yet to be determined) or another date announced by the DOL and Treasury in a future notice. The rule provides that the Outbreak Period may not be longer than one year.

Q: To whom do these extensions apply?
A: The deadline extensions provided for in the relief applies to employee benefit plans, employers, participants, and beneficiaries subject to ERISA.

Q: What is the impact to COBRA elections?
A: Any days within the "Outbreak Period" (starting March 1, 2020) are disregarded when calculating:

  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation;
  • The 60-day notification periods for dependent qualifying events or requests for Social Security disability determinations.

Q: What is the impact to COBRA payment deadlines?
A: Any days within the "Outbreak Period" (starting March 1, 2020) are disregarded when calculating any deadlines for making COBRA premium payments.
Generally, 45 days following the date of election or 30 days following the first of the month.

Q: What is the member experience if COBRA premiums are not made during the "Outbreak Period" (starting with payments due March 1, 2020)?
A:

  • While the member cannot be denied from receiving treatment (the same as in any pending COBRA payment situation), the insurer is not obligated to issue a payment for that service until the premium payment is made.
  • Members may be expected to pay out of pocket and file for reimbursement once the premium payment is made or the insurer can pay the claim and then request reimbursement from the member or the provider if the claim is paid and the member cancels for nonpayment.

Q: What is the impact to members with deadlines prior to the "Outbreak Period"?
A: Any deadlines ending prior to March 1, 2020 are not affected by this guidance. For example, the following deadline expirations would prevail:

  • Cancellations for non-payment of the January 2020 premium (deadline date: January 31, 2020);
  • COBRA elections that must be made on or before February 29, 2020.

Q: Are any COBRA members with deadlines during the "Outbreak Period" excluded by this relief?
A: The guidance does not specify that qualified beneficiaries not impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., divorce or legal separation, loss of dependent child status) should be excluded from these deadline extensions.

Q: What is the impact to FSA/HRA Claims?
A: Any days within the "Outbreak Period" (starting March 1, 2020) are disregarded when calculating any of the following FSA/HRA plan periods:

  • Deadlines to submit claims subject to applicable claims procedures;
  • Deadlines to file appeals of adverse benefit determinations;
  • Deadlines to file external requests for review of adverse benefit determinations.

Q: What is the impact to grace period and carryover deadlines?
A: We are engaged with outside counsel and with advisory agencies concerning clarification and to address concern about continuing ambiguities not directly addressed in the relief, such as:

  • Do "claims procedures" include any Healthcare FSA grace periods?
  • How are carryover calculations impacted?

Q: What is the impact to Direct Bill/Retiree?
A:

  • ERISA plans are subject to this guidance, which will include most retiree group health plans maintained by an employer.
  • However, not all Direct Bill plans for which we provide services are subject to ERISA.
  • In all instances, clients should consult ERISA legal counsel when determining how this relief applies to their benefit plan(s).

Q: What is the impact for State Continuation?
A:

  • While small employer plans are subject to ERISA, the continuation requirements for such plans are generally not.
  • However, many states have issued guidance and similar proclamations to health plan insurers of those states affording similar deadline extensions.
  • In all instances, clients should consult ERISA legal counsel when determining how this relief applies to their benefit plan(s).

Q: What is the impact to Dependent Care FSA?
A: Dependent Care FSAs are not subject to ERISA.

Q: What is the impact to Commuter?
A: Commuter plans are not subject to ERISA.

Q: How will HealthEquity support this relief?
A: A project team has been formed to determine the process and platform changes needed to support the relief. Additional information will be provided once available.

The following FAQs are provided to assist employers and plan sponsors with their research into the potential impacts of the recent IRS guidance. This is not legal advice, and the relief actions are complex and dynamic. As always, we strongly encourage employers and plan sponsors to consult their legal or benefits counsel for conclusive guidance on how the actions apply in their circumstances.

Q: What are the highlights of the IRS Notices?
A:

  • Employers may amend their health FSAs and/or dependent care FSAs to permit employees to apply unused amounts as of the end of a grace/runout period ending in 2020 to pay for reimbursable expenses incurred on or before December 31, 2020.
  • During the 2020 calendar year, employers may amend their plan to offer the ability to make prospective mid-year elections for health coverage, health FSAs, and dependent care FSAs.
  • For plans beginning in 2020, employers may amend their health FSAs to permit employees to carryover up to $550.
  • Clarifies relief for high deductible health plans to cover expenses related to COVID-19, and a temporary exemption for telehealth services retroactively to January 1, 2020 (was March 27, 2020).
  • Clarifies that the Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA) is permitted to treat healthcare premiums as incurred on (1) the first day of each month of coverage, (2) the first day of the period of coverage, or (3) the date the premium is paid. Payment of the premium for coverage made before the beginning of the plan year can be reimbursed if the insurance coverage starts during the plan year.

Q: How is this IRS guidance related to the 4/28 DOL Relief guidance?
A: For group health plans subject to ERISA, the DOL Relief requires deadlines for claims runout starting as of March 1, 2020 to be disregarded during the Outbreak Period (March 1, 2020 to 60 days after the national emergency ends, which has yet to be determined).
For the IRS notices, employers may amend their healthcare FSAs and/or dependent care FSAs to permit employees to apply unused amounts as of the end of a grace/runout period ending in 2020 to pay for reimbursable expenses incurred on or before December 31, 2020.

Q: How will HealthEquity administer these changes?
A: We have formed a project team to determine how we will administer this update. We will follow up as more information is available.

Q: Is it required that employers implement these changes?
A: Employers are not required to provide these election changes to members.

Q: Is a plan amendment needed to implement these changes?
A: For healthcare FSAs and/or dependent care FSAs changes, an amendment is needed along with a communication of the changes to members. We are working to create templates that can be used for the amendment and communications.

Q: What are examples of mid-year changes for healthcare FSAs and/or dependent care FSAs?
A: The notices allow for the ability to revoke an election, make a new election, or increase or decrease an election.

Q: Is the increase to allow up to $550 for carryover temporary?
A: This guidance is not time limited. The carryover maximum is now eligible to be indexed for inflation (similar to FSA/HSA election amounts). For plans beginning in 2020, carryover amounts can be increased to $550.

Q: What is the guidance for HSA-Compatible HDHPs?
A: Per prior guidance, member’s eligibility to make contributions to their HSAs will not be jeopardized for medical expenses related to COVID-19 testing or treatment paid by the HDHP. Notice 2020-29 clarifies this relief applies for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020. It also clarifies that expenses can include “the panel of diagnostic testing for influenza A & B, norovirus and other coronaviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and any items or services required to be covered with zero cost sharing under the Families First Act (as amended by the CARES Act)”.
Previously, plans that covered telemedicine prior to reaching the deductible disqualified HSA holders from making HSA contributions. This change, effective as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment) applies for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021. Notice 2020-29 provides that such services provided on or after January 1, 2020 will also be permitted in an HSA-compatible HDHP.

Q: What is the impact to ICHRAs?
A: An ICHRA is designed to provide a means for employees to be reimbursed for premiums for health insurance coverage incurred after the beginning of the ICHRA’s plan year. Notice 2020-33 allows the ICHRA to treat healthcare premiums as incurred on (1) the first day of each month of coverage, (2) the first day of the period of coverage, or (3) the date the premium is paid. Therefore, payment of the premium for coverage made before the beginning of the plan year can be reimbursed if the insurance coverage starts during the plan year.