Five questions about coronavirus and benefits

May 08, 2020

Benefits Plan updates in response to the COVID-19 crisis provide enhanced benefits and additional support for plan members and their families.

Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, federal legislation, along with measures taken by the Board of Pensions and our business partners, have affected and enhanced benefits through the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Several changes have been enacted in a short time, in response to the rapidly evolving situation. As a result, employers and employees may have questions about which benefits are affected and how.

Here are answers to five questions you may have about benefits and coronavirus.

  1. Does the Medical Plan cover any testing or treatment for COVID-19?
  2. The Medical Plan covers both COVID-19 testing and treatment. All three options (PPO, EPO, and HDHP) pay 100 percent of the cost for coronavirus testing (members pay no deductible, copay, or copayment).

    In addition, under the PPO and EPO, deductibles and copayments will be waived for inpatient treatment of COVID-19 at network hospitals. Under the Medicare Supplement Plan, deductibles and copayments will be waived for inpatient COVID-19 care at Medicare-participating hospitals. The Board will re-evaluate this decision every 30 days.

  3. An employee is struggling with increased stress as a result of the current health crisis. Where can I refer them to for help?
  4. Eligible employees who want to talk to someone about fears and concerns related to COVID-19, or about any personal problem, can contact the confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP),* administered by Cigna. The employee, their family members, and anyone who lives with them can call the EAP 24/7 at 866-640-2772 and talk with a licensed clinician as often as they need to.

    If support beyond telephone consultations is needed, the EAP will provide up to 10 free private counseling sessions with a dedicated counselor through September 30, 2020. Learn more.

    Employees who are not eligible for the EAP and retired members can call Cigna’s free 24-hour Behavioral Resource Line at 866-912-1687 for support during this time of high stress and anxiety.

  5. Has any of the recent legislation passed by the US government in response to this crisis affected benefits through the Board of Pensions?
  6. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act contains several provisions that affect loans and withdrawals from retirement savings plans to provide possible financial relief to people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Read how this legislation — together with measures taken by the Board and our business partners — affects the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

    The CARES Act also removes the requirement that over-the-counter drugs must be prescribed by a physician to be eligible for reimbursement from a healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA.) As a result, employees with either of these accounts may use the money in their account to pay for over-the-counter drugs bought on or after January 1, 2020.

  7. If an employee’s hours are reduced because of this crisis, will they still be eligible for benefits?
  8. The Board of Pensions has suspended the required 20-hour rule for continued benefits eligibility. Therefore, if you have an employee with benefits coverage working more than 20 hours, and you reduce those hours to less than 20, the employee can maintain benefits, provided the dues remain paid.

    If you furlough an employee with benefits coverage, you can reduce his or her hours to zero and still maintain the employee’s active status for benefits purposes, provided the dues are paid on the position.

    If you are thinking about reducing an employee’s hours or furloughing employees, review these important employment considerations.

  9. How can I make sure I have the latest updates about benefits and coronavirus?
  10. Visit our coronavirus information page for updates and information about COVID-19 and the Benefits Plan.

*The EAP is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.