New Health Benefits in CARES Act

Posted August 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress in an attempt to assist with the impacts of COVID-19. The Act provides many significant economic and health reliefs. Here are three changes to employer-sponsored group health plans and other health benefits.

  1. Coverage of COVID-19 Testing

Under the CARES Act, COVID-19 testing will be covered by group health plans and health insurance companies. Insured patients will not have to share the cost. Insurers will pay the health care providers their contact price or cash price posted by the providers if there is no contract between them.

  1. Over-the-Counter Medications as Qualifying Medical Expense

Certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications are now qualified medical expenses and can be reimbursed from various tax-advantage accounts, such as an HSA, Archer MSA, Health FSA, or HRA, without a prescription. OTC medications include pain and allergy medications. In addition, menstrual care products are also eligible expenses for reimbursement. These changes apply to amounts paid or incurred after December 31, 2019.

  1. Telehealth Coverage and Health Savings Accounts

The Act allows a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) that is paired with a HSA to cover telehealth services and other remote care services, whether COVID-19 related or not, prior to an insured patient reaching the deductible. The patient, however, is still responsible for the co-pay as set forth in the plan, if any. This change is only temporary and applies to services provided on or after January 1, 2020, with respect to plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021.