The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on telemedicine (telehealth) and its value as part of an individual’s and an employer’s healthcare plan. Originally developed largely as a convenience for individuals, telemedicine is now nearly a necessity for both individuals and medical providers.
HSAs and Telehealth Expansion (CARES Act)
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allows high deductible health plans (HDHPs) to cover telehealth before participants meet their deductibles (i.e., without cost-sharing). This temporary safe harbor applies for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021, unless extended. As a result of this safe harbor, no-cost telehealth may be provided for any reason–not just COVID-19 related issues–without disrupting HSA eligibility.
- If your plan is fully insured, you need to check with your carrier. Most carriers have issued information on how telemedicine services are being covered.
- If your plan is self-funded, including level funded, you should discuss with your plan administrator (which may be an insurance carrier).
Caution on Offering Telehealth to Employees Not Eligible for Group Health Plan
If you are considering offering a stand-alone telemedicine program to employees not eligible for your health plan, we encourage you to read this Legal Alert for compliance concerns.
Telemedicine Use Beyond This Pandemic
Telemedicine provides greater safety during this pandemic, but even after the pandemic, it can continue to provide:
- More immediate access to medical consultation for non-emergencies, available 24/7
- Diagnosis and treatment, recommendations or reassurance – without leaving your home or workplace
- Elimination of in-office waiting rooms, which take additional time and have potential exposure risk to communicable diseases
While it will never replace an in-person medical consultation and physical exam, telemedicine will be an increasingly important part of healthcare as we move out of this pandemic. We encourage you to review your health plan for how telemedicine may be used or integrated into your program.
If you have any questions, please contact your Alera Group advisor or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected with a local firm in your area.
The information contained herein should be understood to be general insurance brokerage information only and does not constitute advice for any particular situation or fact pattern and cannot be relied upon as such. Statements concerning financial, regulatory or legal matters are based on general observations as an insurance broker and may not be relied upon as financial, regulatory or legal advice. This document is owned by Alera Group, Inc., and its contents may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Alera Group, Inc.