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Insurance and Benefits Updates Related to COVID-19

(Updated 5/6/20)

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

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.

For additional information, see ERISA Deadline Extensions section above. 

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.

BCBS Updates

We’re living in unprecedented times. Blue KC is here to help. We want to make sure you’re informed which is why we’ve taken steps to support you during this ever-changing health pandemic. We’re all in this together. Feel better knowing:

Your PCP has your back - What’s the first thing to do if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19? Call your primary care physician or healthcare provider for instructions. Do not walk into a healthcare facility without contacting the facility in advance – it could put others at risk. 

The COVID-19 test is covered 100% - Does your physician recommend that you be tested? There’s no cost sharing to worry about. All members should contact their primary care physician or healthcare provider to discuss criteria and availability of COVID-19 testing before visiting a healthcare facility. 

You can access from home - There’s no reason to leave home. You can access a video (face-to-face) visit right from your smartphone, tablet or computer with a virtual care doctor who’s been trained to evaluate for COVID-19. Services provided in the Blue KC app are at no cost until June 30, 2020. Download the app on the Apple App Store and Google Play or go to www.BlueKCVirtualCare.com. In addition, until June 30, 2020 you can see your in-network providers, at no cost for virtual (face-to-face), telephone, e-mail or text visits. Cost sharing* still applies to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. *Deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance.

Relaxed rules on Rx refills - Like the CDC, we want you to have more than a one-month supply of medications on hand. So, we’ve waived early medication refills on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (excluding opioids and controlled substances). This means you won’t have to wait until you’re three-quarters into your medications to get a refill. To learn more about your plan’s pharmacy benefits, log into the member portal at MyBlueKC.com.

To see the flyer, click here. If you have questions about your health plan, please call 888.989.8842.

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. March 17 - May 21 PreRetirement Seminars will be online only. 
  3. All 2020 Coffee Break Seminars are cancelled.
  4. MOSERS office buildings are closed to visitors.

MOSERS Pre-Retirement Seminars 

MOSERS pre-retirement seminars were previously scheduled on campus on April 15, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and April 16, from 9 am to noon, Due to COVID-19, pre-retirement seminars will now be available by webinar only. 

Pre-retirement seminars are designed for MSEP and MSEP 2000 members who are within five years of their first normal retirement eligibility date. Topics include pension plan features, the retirement process (due dates, etc.), benefit formula, cost-of-living adjustments, and the decisions you will have to make during the retirement process, including benefit payment options and BackDROP. Life insurance in retirement and re-employment are also reviewed.

To register for the April 15 webinar, click here.

To register for the April 16 webinar, click here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

NOTE: If you were employed by the State of Missouri, for the very first time, on or after January 1, 2011, you are a MSEP 2011 member, please visit the website at www.mosers.org for seminar and webinars specifically designed for you.

 

CURP

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

COVID-19 Related Distributions

  • 10% early withdrawal penalty and 20% tax withholding waived
  • $100,000 limit across all plans and IRAs
  • Option to have income taxed over three years with taxpayer ability to recontribute within three years regardless of that year’s cap
  • Participants self-certify that they’re impacted

Suspension of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

For 401(a), 403(a), 403(b) and governmental 457(b) plans and IRAs, temporary suspension of:

  • Annual RMDs due in 2020
  • Initial RMDs still due to be taken before April 1, 2020

If you have questions, please contact the Administrator Telephone Center at 888.842.7782.

Supplemental Retirement Plans (403b and 457 plans)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27 and contains the following retirement plan provisions that affect supplemental 403b and/or 457 retirement plans:

COVID-19 Related Distributions

  • 10% early withdrawal penalty and 20% tax withholding waived
  • $100,000 limit across all plans and IRAs
  • Option to have income taxed over three years with taxpayer ability to recontribute within three years regardless of that year’s cap
  • Participants self-certify that they’re impacted 

COVID-19 Related Loans

  • Loan limit increased to the lesser of $100,000 or all of vested account balance
  • Repayments due between the date of CARES enactment and year-end delayed one year
  • Participants self-certify that they’re impacted
  • Loan provisions do not apply to 457 plans 

Suspension of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

For 401(a), 403(a), 403(b) and governmental 457(b) plans and IRAs, temporary suspension of:

  • Annual RMDs due in 2020
  • Initial RMDs still due to be taken before April 1, 2020

If you have questions, please contact the plan administrator:

TIAA - 888.842.7782

MetLife - 800.638.5433

New York Life - 800.598.2019

MO Deferred Compensation - 800.392.0925

Optum Health Savings Account

 

Claims Submission Deadline Extended

You now have until July 15, 2020 to make HSA contributions, to align with your federal tax filing and payment deadline. If contributions are made up until the extended date, a revised 2019 5498 tax form will be available in August 2020.

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 that apply to Health Savings Accounts:

  • 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. 

Click here for the latest developments and up-to-date information on regulation changes related to health care spending and savings accounts. If you have questions about your Health Savings Account, please contact Optum at 877.470.1771

Delta Dental

Maintaining Good Oral Health at Home

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, let's maintain good oral health at home. Check out Delta Dental's recommendations for at-home oral care by clicking here

Dental Procedures

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that dental facilities postpone elective procedures, elective surgeries and non-urgent dental visits now and in the coming weeks due to COVID-19. Members with a need for urgent dental care should their dentist to be advised on next steps for treatment. Dentists who participate in Delta Dental's networks are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines in treating patients.

Teledenistry

Delta Dental of Missouri is aware of the American Dental Association (ADA) and the CDC encouraging dentists to use teledenistry as a means of communicating with patients. Delta Dental supports the guidance provided by the ADA and CDC. If you have questions about what teledenistry services are covered by Delta Dental, please call 800.335.8266.

MO Cafeteria/ASI Flex

 

Dependent Care Changes

If you have had a change in dependent care due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to adjust your dependent care contribution. Please contact ASIFlex at 800-659-3035 if you are interested in updating your contribution amount to see if you qualify. 

Claims Submission Deadline Extended

Due to current circumstances, the Office of Administration has extended the 2019 Missouri State Employees’ Cafeteria Plan claims filing deadline from April 15th to June 30th, 2020.

Claims Filing

Effective March 24, ASI is taking the precautionary measure of allowing incoming mail to remain untouched and unopen for three (3) days to ensure the safety of our employees opening the mail. 

ASIFlex highly encourages participants to file claims electronically as this will result in quicker reimbursement to your employees and safer processing for our employees.  Participants can file claims via the free mobile app, online by signing into their account, or by fax at 877-879-9038.  We are asking participants to consider signing up for direct deposit and electronic communications via email or text as this will also reduce paper usage and wait times.  Participants can do this online once they sign into their account.

If you have questions about your flexible medical spending or dependent care account, please call 800.659.3035.

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.

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.