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

Updated content as of June 19, 2020

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

July 31, 2020 Update

As of July 25, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the public health emergency. It is now set to expire on October 23, 2020. While HHS Secretary Azar extended the public health emergency period, the expiration of the national emergency period has not been determined. The President declares when the national emergency period is over. While it stands to reason that the public health emergency period could be used to determine the end of the national emergency period, it is not automatic. Therefore, at present, the Outbreak Period is still "as-yet-to-be-determined".

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).

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 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 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: What is the Department of Labor (DOL) relief that was published on April 28?
A: For all plans subject to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code, the relief allows additional time in which a group health plan sponsor or plan administrator should provide certain notices, disclosures, or other documents affecting COBRA continuation coverage, special enrollment periods, benefit claims, appeals of denied claims, and external review of certain claims. 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 and which may vary by state or geographic region) 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.

COBRA

Q: How will HealthEquity handle eligibility reporting during the "Outbreak Period"?
A: HealthEquity will continue to report eligibility using the same methods and in the same manner as always. However, we will make a new supplemental report available upon request that contains individuals who have elected but not paid for coverage.

Q: How will HealthEquity treat member cancellations during the "Outbreak Period"?
A: HealthEquity will make changes to our COBRA platforms that disable the automatic cancellations for "Failure to Pay" and "Failure to Elect" reasons during the "Outbreak Period". Additionally, any days within the "Outbreak Period" will be 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 – for example, if an individual was within the 60-day period of either of those events, the countdown is paused during the "Outbreak Period" and resumes where it left off after the period ends

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 remain in place:

  • Cancellations for non-payment of a premium that was due January 31, 2020;
  • COBRA elections that had to be made on or before February 29, 2020 and were not made on time.

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: How will HealthEquity notify members of the relief provided by the DOL?
A: HealthEquity will notify individuals of the relief through an insert with the COBRA Qualified Election Notification (QEN), Insufficient Payment Notice or Premium Notice. We've also created a member microsite with information on the DOL ruling and any additional updates that may occur.
For an additional fee, HealthEquity can offer custom notifications of reinstatement rights upon request.

Q: How will HealthEquity reinstate members if they have already been cancelled during the "Outbreak Period"?
A: HealthEquity has made the decision not to actively reinstate the Members but will do so upon the request of the Member/Client/Partner.

FSA & HRA

Q: What is the impact to claims for plans that are subject to ERISA (e.g., FSA/HRA)?
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 action should I take if I have an active FSA or HRA plan that is impacted?
A: You may wish to tell your employees about the changes in the runout deadline for FSA and HRA. For FSA and HRA plans with a claim runout end date on or after March 1, 2020, HealthEquity will automatically apply an extension through December 31, 2020* in the member portals with a disclaimer that the date is subject to change based on federal guidance.

Q: Will HealthEquity continue to process claims during the emergency period?
A: Claims will continue to be processed in a timely fashion and prefunding will be required for claims paid in accordance with your normal funding schedule.
Deadline extensions for all claims that are filed and received during the emergency period will be supported.
Telemedicine claims under HSA-qualified high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) will be supported based on new guidance provided by the IRS.

Q: What about prefunding?
A: If prefunding for the prior plan year has already been returned to you, HealthEquity will not request the prefund be returned. Instead, we will send an invoice to you in the event we need to pay additional claims during the extended runout period.

Q: How will deadline adjustments be communicated to my employees?
A: HealthEquity will update the member website with a message displaying the claim-by date and a disclaimer that the date is subject to change based on federal guidance.
Once the national emergency period is declared over, HealthEquity will adjust the runout dates according to guidance rules and communicate this to you via a compliance alert.

Q: What about special enrollment dates?
A: HealthEquity will support the extension of special enrollment dates (in the case of events like marriage, divorce, birth and adoption) via the standard enrollment method.

Q: What about carryover amounts that have already been transferred?
A: Carryover amounts that have been transferred to the new plan year will not be automatically rolled back.

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 continue to be provided.

* All employer sponsored plans (ESPs) and DCFSA plans will be excluded from the automated runout extension update. Any changes to ESP or DCFSA plan runout dates can by managed through your HealthEquity contact.

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

  • Extended Period in Which to Incur Expenses for Health FSAs and Dependent Care FSAs:
    • Employers with a grace period or plan year that ends in 2020 (e.g., plan year ends March 31, 2020, or grace period from 2019 ends March 15, 2020), may extend the period for incurring health and/or dependent care FSA expenses up to December 31, 2020. This provision does not apply to calendar year plans that do not have grace periods.
    • The extension of time for incurring claims is available both to cafeteria plans that have a grace period and plans that provide for a carryover (notwithstanding the general rule that health FSAs may not have both a carryover and a grace period). In other words, a health FSA that allows a carryover would also be permitted to amend the plan to extend the claims period to December 31, 2020. However, this additional flexibility (one-time coverage extension) would only benefit those plans with years ending on a date other than December 31 (i.e., a non-calendar plan year).
      • For example, a health FSA with a non-calendar plan year (e.g., February 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020), a participant would be able to use any remaining amounts from the 2019 plan year as of January 31, 2020 to pay for reimbursable expenses through December 31, 2020, even amounts exceeding the otherwise-applicable $500 carryover limit for the 2019 plan year.
  • 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. The maximum unused amount from a plan year starting in 2020 allowed to be carried over to the immediately following plan year beginning in 2021.
  • 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 will HealthEquity administer these changes?
A: We have formed a project team to determine how we will administer this update. We will continue to follow up as more information is available.

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

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: Will extending the time for incurring claims impact my employees on an HSA plan?
A: Important to note that members may not make or receive HSA contributions when they have health FSA balances, unless the FSA is an HSA-compatible health FSA (e.g., a limited-purpose FSA). Thus, employers who have HDHPs and facilitate the opening and maintenance of employees' HSAs should exercise care to make sure that adding a grace period does not adversely impact their employees' ability to contribute to their HSAs. For example, if a plan year ends on June 30, 2020, and the employer intends to offer an HDHP with HSA starting July 1, 2020, adding a grace period can make employees ineligible to make or receive HSA contributions until the grace period ends.
But a grace period for dependent care FSAs and HSA-compatible health FSAs (e.g., limited purpose FSAs) would not have any impact on HSA eligibility.

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. The maximum unused amount from a plan year starting in 2020 allowed to be carried over to the immediately following plan year beginning in 2021.

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.

Q: How is HealthEquity handling premium payments made before the beginning of the plan year?
A: For those with individual coverage under an HRA plan, HealthEquity will not deny premium payments made before the beginning of the plan year.