How can I help my employees navigate health insurance during COVID-19?
The spread of COVID-19, and the ensuing public health response, have upended our lives and the economy. During this time, many employers are working hard to take care of their employees while also keeping their businesses afloat. We asked Justin Safranski from Benafica to help answer some of the top of mind questions related to health insurance that employers and their employees are currently wrestling with.
Navigating Employee Benefits during COVID-19
Q: If employee eligibility changes due to hours, furlough or layoff what happens to their coverage?
A: Employers will have the option to keep currently enrolled employees on their plans as active employees, even when hours are reduced below the average hours worked eligibility requirement or they are furloughed. Insurance carriers are providing flexibility in eligibility definition if premium payments continue as usual. If your group is terminating/laying off employees, COBRA applies.
Q: If I can’t afford to keep my group health plan what other options can I offer my employees?
A: If your group is terminating coverage (no active employees/closing business), standard contract provisions apply, and the group contact will be terminated. In this case, COBRA does not apply. Individuals may obtain coverage on the individual market, which may be subsidy-eligible based on income. If you wish to continue to offer a benefit at a lower cost, employers now have the option to provide a defined contribution of any amount to help offset employee’s individual health plan premiums through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Either an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA) or a Qualifying Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) may be offered.
Q: If employees need to apply for individual coverage what guidance can I provide them?
A: Employees losing group coverage or seeking a COBRA alternative may obtain coverage on the individual market, which may be subsidy-eligible based on income. MNsure has declared a COVID-19 Emergency Special Enrollment Period until April 21, 2020, allowing uninsured individuals to enroll in health insurance coverage through MNsure with an April 1st, 2020 effective date.
Protecting the health of my Employees during COVID-19
Q: What are the insurance carrier’s coverage commitments for COVID-19 testing and treatment?
A: Minnesota’s health plans have agreed to waive costs for treatment of COVID. Minnesotan’s with commercial insurance including individuals, small businesses, and some large businesses are now eligible for the following benefits: expansion of telemedicine visits to include visits from a member’s home, utilization of additional technologies such as FaceTime or Skype, no cost-sharing (copay, coinsurance, and deductible) charges for COVID testing, prior authorization requirements and cost-sharing have been waived for hospitalization related to COVID.
How can we help your business?
Every business in Minnesota is impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The Minnesota Chamber is actively working with our members and the business community as a whole to understand the current, dynamic business climate. If you or your business would like one-on-one assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.