10 Coronavirus Changes From the Past Week

There has been an absolute flurry of legislative activity and industry changes that have impacted employee benefits plans in the past week.  It’s been difficult to keep up with all of them, but we’ve done our best to keep our clients informed.

I thought I’d capture some of the most important things I’ve taken from the past week or so in a short blog post.  Hope this is helpful.

  1. Several health insurance companies have waived employee costs for COVID – 19 treatment.
  2. Employers can make tax free student debt repayment payments up to $5250 per employee per year.  https://finance.yahoo.com/news/student-loan-repayment-benefits-now-203700726.html
  3. The Payroll Protection Program will provide small businesses up to 8 weeks of payroll and benefits costs through a forgivable SBA loan.  Applications will begin tomorrow.  Hopefully there is enough money for what is expected to be a large number of applicants.
  4. Employees experiencing financial difficulties from the Cornavirus can take “Coronavirus related distributions” up to $100,000 from their 401K without paying an early withdrawl penalty.  https://fortune.com/2020/03/27/401k-withdrawal-penalties-waived-retirement-accounts-loans-retirees-coronavirus-stimulus-package-cares-act-relief-bill/
  5. Several insurance companies are relaxing the rules for eligibility to allow furloughed or laid off employees to keep their benefits plans.
  6. At least one dental carrier is allowing coverage for telephone or video consultations for “problem focused dental exams.”
  7. Several insurance companies have extended premium payment grace periods and expressed a willingness to work with employers who are having difficulty paying premiums on time.
  8. At least one dental insurance company has announced they will renew all plans renewing in May, June, and July with no change in rates.
  9. We know of at least one vendor that is providing free online enrollment sites for employers with open enrollment dates of July 1 or sooner to help local employers with newly remote work forces.
  10. A few COBRA administrators are offering to help employers collect premium from furloughed or laid off employees who remain on the benefits plans as “active” employees.

The common theme is simply a collective effort from all corners to try to help people and employers deal with this crisis.  Every day I’m more encouraged by the spirit, resilience, and innovation being shown across the country.  We’ll get through this.

If you’d like details on anything I’ve covered above, feel free to call us at 866-724-0008.  Despite the rest of the staff working from home, I’m manning the phones here at the office.  You can also click the link below, and we’ll be in touch.



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