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U.S. Department of Labor announces guidance for employee benefit plans impacted by COVID
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently posted guidance on the Continuation of Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants and Beneficiaries Due to the COVID-19 Outbreak — Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01. The guidance clarifies that the “Outbreak Period” extension, which commenced March 1, 2020, is limited by law to a period of 1 year, or until the end of the Outbreak Period, whichever period is shorter.
As of this date, the Outbreak Period (which runs from March 1, 2020 through 60 days after a yet to be announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency period) is still in effect. This may impact employers with Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) benefits, health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and/or limited purpose FSAs.
Disaster Relief, the Outbreak Period and COBRA
Starting last March when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there were updates made to COBRA to better support people who became unemployed during the pandemic. These extensions officially went into effect on March 1, 2020 and will last until the end of the “Outbreak Period,” which is the length of the pandemic plus 60 days after the COVID-19 National emergency ends.
In February of 2021, the Department of Labor released additional guidance on the Continuation of Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants and Beneficiaries due to the COVID-19 Outbreak -- Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01. The guidance states the “Outbreak Period” extension, which commenced March 1, 2020, is limited by law to a period of 1 year from the date of the individual action, or until the end of the Outbreak Period, whichever period is shorter. So what does this mean for COBRA benefits?
Unemployment and finding the right health insurance coverage
Unemployment rates reached a record high in April of 2020 and despite falling since, they have remained stubbornly above pre-pandemic averages.footnote1 With health coverage being tied to employment in the US, this has left many people trying to figure out next steps to keep medical coverage during the pandemic. There are some options to consider.
The gift of good health: How to stay safe and healthy
The week leading up to Thanksgiving, the CDC found that over 400,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 as infection rates continue to climb.footnote1 It is for this reason that the CDC as well as many state governments are recommending people limit their travel this winter. If you are unable to limit travel and contact with people outside your home, there are ways to help you stay safe.
COVID-19 forces us to rethink childcare — women are disproportionately facing the consequences
There are 13 million families in the US who have at least one working adult and children under the age of six. There are an additional 17 million families with at least one working adult and children between the ages of 6 and 17. This means 30 million American families who have to navigate childcare and education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.footnote1
According to the New York Times, women surpassed 50% of the workforce despite being responsible for 70% of childcare in February 2020, just a month before the pandemic hit the US.footnote3 Given this, it is no surprise that more women are dealing with the impact of working from home and reduced access to childcare.
Employers have options to lessen the impact of childcare on their employees, especially their female employees.
Health Savings Accounts & the COVID-19 pandemic
Over 22 million Americans filed for unemployment between March 21, 2020 and April 16, 2020, according to the Washington Postfootnote1. The current unemployment levels rival only those seen during the Great Depression.
In the United States (U.S.), our health insurance is usually tied to our place of employment. This means that unemployment doesn’t only come with loss of income, but also with loss of insurance coverage. In a time of a national and global medical emergency – this can be even more stressful. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 29% of adults surveyed had reported that they have fallen behind on paying bills or have had problems affording household expenses like food or health insurance coverage since February due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The CARES Act & Feminine Hygiene: Why does it matter?
One of the provisions in the CARES Act, passed on March 27, 2020, is the expansion of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to cover feminine hygiene products. This includes items like pads, liners, and tampons; as well as, alternative and sustainable options like menstrual cups, sponges, and period underwear. As women know, feminine hygiene products are expensive. An FSA or HSA can help.
IRS announces HSA limits for 2021
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) just announced the new limits for 2021 within Revenue Procedure 2020-32. This update impacts both health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). Due to the cost-of-living adjustment rules, the HSA contribution limits and maximum out-of-pocket amounts will increase. The minimum annual deductibles and HSA catch-up contribution amount will remain the same as last year.
See the 2021 IRS limits
PayFlex named one of the 30 Smartest Companies to watch
PayFlex is promoted in CIO Bulletin as one of the 30 Smartest Companies to watch. In this online article, we share our core purpose: making it simple to plan, save, and pay for personal well-being. We’re bringing that purpose to life through innovation, technology and our obsession with the consumer experience.
Transit benefit ordinances across the country
Various cities and states across the country are passing transit benefit ordinances. These require employers to offer pretax transportation benefits (also known as a commuter benefit plan) to their employees.
Stay up to date on state and local policies
2020 limits for FSAs, adoption assistance and transit and parking benefits
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced annual inflation adjustments for 2020. This includes contribution limits for health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs), limited purpose FSAs, adoption assistance and transit/vanpool and parking benefits.
Helping participants make the most of their paycheck
In conjunction with the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) HSA Committee, Cherie Moser, PayFlex Director of Consumer Solutions, shares her insights on how technology can help address one of the biggest problems with optimizing HSA adoption and use — employee education.
PayFlex recognized as one of the top 20 most promising payment and card solution providers
In the June 2019 edition of CIOReview magazine, PayFlex is featured as an innovator in the card and payment space. PayFlex CEO and President Mike DiSimone talks about how his “no holding back” approach to leadership supports the company’s belief in experimenting and trying out new things without the fear of failure — all in support of helping members on their health care journey.
IRS announces HSA limits for 2020
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released Revenue Procedure 2019-25. It provides the 2020 calendar year limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). Due to the cost-of-living adjustment rules of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 223, HSA contribution limits, minimum annual deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket amounts will increase.
See the 2020 IRS limits
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