Benefits and COVID-19

As we navigate through the effects COVID-19 has our lives, many of us are facing urgent questions about how the virus and resulting workplace changes might affect our benefits.

In this space, we’re addressing frequently asked questions. However, please be aware that, as with many benefit questions, specific answers depend on factors such as your specific plan, your employer’s policies, and the evolving conditions. So, use the answers here as guidelines, and consult with your HR team and your coverage provider before making benefit-related decisions.

Can I keep my health benefits if I’m furloughed, laid off, or have reduced hours?

Typically, benefits do not continue if you are off work for an extended time or fall below a certain hours threshold, even under current conditions. However, some employers are looking for ways to maintain coverage for all employees. If your coverage is discontinued, you can take advantage of COBRA, which allows you to continue coverage by paying the full cost yourself. Some employers might subsidize the cost of COBRA.

Are COVID-19 tests covered by health benefits?

Yes. Recent federal legislation requires group plans to cover COVID-19 tests without any co-payment or any kind of cost-sharing (i.e., deductible requirements). This coverage extends to the cost of services that result in a test, including telehealth or visits to a caregiver’s office, urgentcare center, or emergency room.

Is COVID-19 treatment covered by health benefits?

Yes, but the level of coverage and whether or not a patient is required to pay co-pays and meet deductibles varies from insurer to insurer.

If a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered, will it be covered by health benefits

Yes. Under the new federal law, any “qualified coronavirus preventive service” must be covered without any co-payment or any kind of costsharing (i.e., deductible requirements).

If I have to stay home to care for a loved one with coronavirus, will I be paid and keep my job and benefits?

The new federal rules expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to require employers with fewer than 500 employees to allow up to 12 weeks of job-protected time off to care for a loved one, and up to 80 hours of paid leave for full-time employees (and other rules for part-time workers). Some employers might allow employees to “share” leave with each other to extend covered leave time. Under the FMLA, employees also must have the option of continuing their benefits coverage.

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