Expanded FMLA offerings and Emergency Paid Sick Leave are available for employees as a result of COVID-19. There are other implications regarding common benefit plans to be aware of.

The CARES Act Section 3702 – Inclusion of over-the-counter medical products without a prescription.

This section allows patients to use funds in health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for the purchase of over-the-counter medical products, including those needed in quarantine and social distancing, without a prescription from a doctor. These expenses apply to any expense incurred after 2019. Examples of eligible expenses now include menstrual care products.

The CARES Act Section 3701 – Exemption for health savings accounts for telehealth services.

This section allows a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with an HSA to cover telehealth services prior to a patient reaching the deductible, increasing access for patients who may have the COVID-19 virus and protecting other patients from potential exposure. This applies to plan years beginning on or before 12/31/2021.

Inform your employees of the rules about changing FSA elections mid-year.

Under IRS rules, and typically outlined in your employer plan documents, employees cannot make changes to their FSA elections unless they have a qualifying life event. However, a qualifying life event as it relates to COVID-19 includes:

  • Change in employment status that affects eligibility
  • FMLA leave
  • Change to the number of dependents

Specifically, for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) participants, the closure of childcare providers also affects elections. Some participants are eligible to increase or decrease their DCFSA elections due to:

  • Change of day care provider
  • Cost of care changes
  • Need for care changes due to a job change or reduction in work hours

Review your plan documentation and connect with your spending account vendors/benefits brokers to see what options are available for your employees. There may be an opportunity to extend the FSA claim filing deadline to give participants additional time to submit expenses due to COVID-19. Be sure to reach out to employees to raise awareness of these changes. Payroll Network’s HR advisors can also offer valuable advice and partner with your company if you need help reviewing this topic. Contact us at hradvisor@payrollnetwork.com.