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Insurance and Benefits Updates Related to COVID-19

(Updated 2/2/21)

As Northwest insurance carriers continue to provide plan updates related to COVID-19, information will be made available to employees here.

For more information regarding Northwest’s response to COVID-19, including Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/alert/coronavirus.

ERISA Deadline Extensions

The U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have jointly issued deadline relief and other guidance under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The relief provides participants additional time to comply with certain deadlines which might be missed during the COVID-19 outbreak that could result in the loss or lapse of group health coverage or the denial of a valid claim for benefits.

The final rule is effective immediately. This means that any deadline on or after March 1, 2020 (the start date of the National Emergency due to COVID-19 as declared by the President) would be extended through the full period of the National Emergency plus an additional 60 days. The types of deadlines extended by the ruling that could impact you include:

  • Your 30- or 60-day period to exercise HIPAA special enrollment rights (HIPAA special enrollment events generally include loss of eligibility for other coverage, or acquisition of a new dependent due to marriage, birth, adoption or placement for adoption).
  • The 60-day period to elect COBRA continuation of coverage, following a loss of your employer-sponsored coverage due to specific COBRA qualifying events (COBRA qualifying events include voluntary or involuntary termination of employment, reduction in hours below plan eligibility requirements, divorce or legal separation, death of a covered employee, and loss of dependent child status).
  • Your 45-day grace period to make your first COBRA premium payment following the election of COBRA continuation coverage, as well as the normal 30-day grace periods for making monthly COBRA premium payments.
  • The date by which you must notify the plan where you experience a COBRA qualifying event and are determined to have been disabled as of the date of that event or within the following 60 days.
  • The date by which you or a healthcare provider on your behalf must file a claim for benefits under the plan.
  • The date by you must file an appeal after having a claim denied in whole or in part.
  • The date by which claimants must request external review after having certain medical claims denied in whole or in part.

Federal authorities have provided several examples in reference to the deadlines above.. If you would like to review those examples, see the document at the link below.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-09399.pdf

Our welfare benefits plans to which the federal guidance applies are deemed amended to reflect these requirements, for as long as the requirements are in effect.

If you have questions about this information, please contact the Office of Human Resources at hrwebpg@nwmissouri.edu

 

Blue Cross Blue Shield

BlueKC Extension of COVID-19 Coverage and Policies

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) remains focused on ensuring our members have access to the care they need as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the fall and winter.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced they will extend the COVID-19 public health emergency period through April 20, 2021 (it was previously set to expire on January 20, 2021).

As a result, Blue KC is announcing we will go beyond the public health emergency period and extend the following coverage and member relief through June 30, 2021 for Commercial plans (ACA Individual and Family plans will observe the COVID-19 benefit coverage until the end of the emergency period only):

  • Waiving all member cost sharing for virtual (face-to-face), telephone, e-mail or text visits for medical services or behavioral health therapy (cost sharing still applies to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy).
  • Waiving all member cost sharing and copayments for in-patient hospital admissions due to the diagnosis of COVID-19 for Commercial plans. Applicable cost share applies, under plan provisions of each policy, for ACA Individual and Family plans.
  • Prior authorizations will be waived for diagnostic tests and for outpatient covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance if diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 tests ordered by a physician, and associated services, will continue to be covered with no cost sharing for Blue KC members. Note: Tests and services that are work-related, as well as public surveillance testing are not covered.

Blue KC Virtual Care App

If you download the Blue KC Vitual Care app, you will have affordable acces to 24/7 health care. You can schedule a visit with a board-certified doctor or behavior health therapist right from your smartphone tablet or computer. Blue KC Virtual Care is convenient for everyday medical and behavioral healthcare. Click here for additional information. 

CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27 and contains the following health plan provisions:

  • Allows individuals to use money from pretax accounts (health savings accounts (HSA), flexible spending arrangements and health reimbursement arrangements) to purchase over-the-counter drugs. It also allows pretax purchase of menstrual products.
  • Health plans must cover the cost of coronavirus testing and the related office visit without cost sharing, even if the test is not yet FDA-approved.
  • Participants in a high-deductible health plan may receive telemedicine services for reduced or no cost prior to reaching their deductible without jeopardizing HSA eligibility through plan years beginning in 2021.
  • If preventive measures become available, defined as an “item, service, or immunization that is intended to prevent or mitigate” the coronavirus, all group health plans must cover them without cost sharing.

 

MOSERS

In light of the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation, the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System (MOSERS) is proactively taking action to ensure the continuation of vital benefit services to our members while also protecting the health of members, staff, and other stakeholders.

  1. Pension payments will continue as usual.
  2. All MOSERS educational sessions will be held online until at least June 1, 2021.
  3. All 2021 Coffee Breaks will be held online.
  4. MOSERS office buildings remain closed to visitors, but you can still contact a MOSERS benefit counselor for assistance.
For update to date MOSERS information related to COVID-19, click here

MOSERS Ready to Retire Sessions 

All MOSERS Ready to Retire sessions will be held online until at least June 1, 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Employees who are within 5 years of retirement eligibility should have received an email from MOSERS with instructions on how to register.

Online webinars will be held on the following dates:

April 1 - 9:00 a.m. to noon
April 7 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
April 13 - 9:00 a.m. to noon
April 22 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
October 19 - 9:00 a.m. to noon

You can log in to your myMOSERS account to register or you can call a benefits counselor at 800-827-1063.

Delta Dental

Delta Dental Teledentistry

Delta Dental has partnered with TeleDentistry.com to provide 24/7 access to a dentist, 365 days a year. Teledentistry.com dentists provide initial consultation services and can write prescriptions when appropriate. Members will be referred to a Delta Dental network dentist for definitive diagnosis and treatment. For additional information on this service, click here.

Mental Health and Wellness Resources during COVID-19

Coping During Uncertain Times

Times of uncertainty often cause stress for many - it's to be expected. As everyone adjusts to the "new normal" during the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to take care of ourselves so we can support our loved ones and be able to work. Please click here to see a work, life, and health tip sheet provided by our benefit consultant, Lockton.

Mindful by Blue KC

Mindful by BlueKC is a behavioral health initiative dedicated to reducing stigma around behavioral health in our communities while making care accessible and affordable for members. Mindful by Blue KC is a commitment to covering the health needs of the whole person and comes to life as a set of tools and resources to address stress, depression, anxiety, substance use and more. This ensures that members can access and afford the behavioral healthcare they need.

 

Mindful Advocates are available 24/7 and are licensed behavioral health clinicians who match members to providers and guide care plans. Mindful Advocates can be reach at 833-302-6463. Click here for additional information about the Mindful by BlueKC initiative.

Employee Assistance Program

Did you know Ability Assist Counseling Services, our Employee Assistance Program through The Hartford, is available to you and your family members (spouses and dependents)? The EAP provides emotional/work-life, financial, legal, and health/benefit services counseling not only to employees but also to their famillies. To learn how to take advantage of this valuable resource, click here.

Therapy Assistance Online 

TAO is online self-help available 24/7 for Northwest employees. Several behavioral health modules are available, including general well-being and resilience, stress, anxiety, depression, pain management, and relationships and communication. TAO is interactive and allows employees to watch engaging videos and complete exercises. TAO is completely confidential. For additional information about TAO, click here.