• CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) RESOURCES & INFORMATION

As information continues to unfold regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand you are focused on how to help your families, businesses and teams acclimate to an ever-changing situation. Our goal is to be respectful while still offering helpful solutions. You’ll find resources, solutions and answers to frequently asked questions on this site. 

Please note:
We’re monitoring the situation and updating as quickly as possible, but this page may not contain the latest information. Please review the CDC, DOL and WHO websites for the most up-to-date information.

LATEST UPDATES:

OTC EXPENSES NOW ELIGIBLE FOR HSA, FSA, HRA REIMBURSEMENT
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which permanently reinstates coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines as eligible for reimbursement from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) without need for a prescription. It further expands the definition of qualified OTC items to include menstrual care products. This change is effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020. For more on the CARES Act, click here.


The information on this page is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.

You may have employees incurring unexpected expenses as a result of the pandemic. There are a number of solutions you can provide to support them that cover a variety of healthcare, financial and wellness costs that have recently emerged. We have outline these customizable solutions below. 

If you would like us to reach out to you about solutions to support your employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.


Disaster Relief Payments (Section 139)

This plan is employer-funded and leverages tax-free dollars to help your employees during a federally declared disaster. On March 13, 2020, COVID-19 was designated a disaster under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Under this plan, dollars are provided to employees and used to reimburse or pay reasonable and necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19. Offer this plan to cover expenses such as, but not limited to:

  • Health-related expenses not considered medical, including over-the-counter medications, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, cleaners, soap
  • Child care and/or tutoring expenses due to school closings
  • Increased home expenses, such as home office set-up, internet and cell phone charges, printer and related expenses Increased utility expenses
  • Transportation expenses due to work relocation
  • Critical care and funeral expenses

* As with any plan offerings, please consult with your legal counsel, tax adviser and benefits attorney.

If you have questions about this plan, let us know if you'd like to learn more.

Download our solution comparison handout


Emergency Spending Account (another form of LSA specific to COVID-19)

This plan is employer-funded and leverages post-tax dollars to help your employees through this challenging time by covering any expenses you choose.

Offer this plan to cover any expenses that have emerged as a result of COVID-19, including (but not limited to):

  • Additional daycare needs
  • Work-from-home equipment (such as monitors, internet charges, cell phone expenses, etc.)
  • Groceries Meal delivery services (UberEats, Grubhub, etc.)
  • Meal delivery kits (Blue Apron, HelloFresh, etc.)

*Eligible expenses under this plan can be added or removed at any time. Post-pandemic, this plan can be terminated or converted to a Lifestyle Spending Account and cover wellness-related expenses.

** As with any plan offerings, please consult with your legal counsel, tax adviser and benefits attorney.

If you have questions about this plan, let us know if you'd like to learn more.


Lifestyle Spending Account

This plan is employer-funded and leverages post-tax dollars to promote the wellbeing of employees through physical, financial and emotional wellness, especially during these trying times.

Offer this plan to cover expenses such as, but not limited to:

  • Athletic equipment and accessories
  • Virtual fitness classes
  • Home purchase expense reimbursement (down payment, closing costs, etc.)
  • Financial Advisor fees
  • Virtual meditation classes
  • Counseling services

* Eligible expenses under this plan can be added or removed at any time. The examples above are relevant to the current pandemic.

** As with any plan offerings, please consult with your legal counsel, tax adviser and benefits attorney.

If you have questions about this plan, let us know if you'd like to learn more.


Limited Purpose COVID-19 HRA (HSA compatible)

This plan is employer-funded and helps prevent employees from avoiding medical expenses simply because they have not yet satisfied their High-Deductible Health Plan’s annual deductible and that are not covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This HRA pays first before HSA dollars are needed.

Offer this plan if your carrier or insurer does not cover certain medical expenses, including:

  • Ambulance expenses
  • Hospital expenses
  • Laboratory expenses
  • X-ray
  • Other medical services

* As with any plan offerings, please consult with your legal counsel, tax adviser and benefits attorney.


COBRA and Direct Bill

Our COBRA and Direct Bill administration provides comprehensive, end-to-end administration that allows employers to subsidize COBRA coverage for affected qualified beneficiaries. Our administration includes:

  • Automation of COBRA notices
  • Carrier updates regarding COBRA coverage
  • Consumer online and mobile app options
  • Ability to subsidize COBRA coverage
  • Support Leave of Absence billing

* As with any plan offerings, please consult with your legal counsel, tax adviser and benefits attorney.


Discovery Marketplace

This marketplace provides consumers access to affordable individual insurance coverage options reducing their need for COBRA.

Offer Discovery Marketplace for products including, but not limited to:

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Ancillary

Custom Communication Solutions

For assistance with preparing or sending communication to your employees about their benefits, direct bill or COBRA coverage ask us about our Custom Communication Solutions. We have a team ready to help assist you.

Our technology & resources

Easily access funds using your Discovery Benefits debit card. Learn more about what’s eligible using our searchable eligible expense list.

Use your benefits debit card online at:

Resources:

Videos:


Health Savings Account (HSA)

Adjusting Contributions
Pre-tax payroll contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA) can be increased, reduced or stopped at any time through your employer.

*Please note: All funds in an HSA carry over from year to year. 

2019 Contribution Extension
The federal tax-filing due date was postponed to July 15, 2020 (from April 15, 2020) as part of IRS Notice 2020-18. As a result, HSA participants have until this date to contribute funds to their HSA for the 2019 tax year.

Paying for coronavirus
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The legislation states that testing for COVID-19 is free and provides up to two weeks of paid leave to individuals affected by the coronavirus in a number of ways.

Eligible expenses you might need right now:

  • Ambulance
  • Emergency Room
  • Telemedicine

Medical, Limited Medical or Combination Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Adjusting Contributions
Pre-tax payroll contributions to your Medical or Limited Purpose FSA can only be increased, reduced or stopped if you’re experiencing an IRS-approved qualifying event.

Eligible expenses you might need right now:

  • Ambulance
  • Emergency Room
  • Telemedicine

*Please confirm with your employer that your FSA allows for mid-year changes.


Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (Dependent Care FSA)

Adjusting Contributions
Pre-tax payroll contributions to your Dependent Care FSA can only be increased, reduced or stopped if you’re experiencing an IRS-approved qualifying event.

Eligible expenses you might need right now:

  • Relative care (payments to a relative for dependent care)
  • Babysitter (inside or outside your household)
  • Back-up or Emergency Care Late Pickup Fee

*Please confirm with your employer that your FSA allows for mid-year changes.


Commuter Benefits

Adjusting Contributions
Pre-tax payroll contributions to your Commuter Benefits (transit or parking) can be increased, reduced or stopped any time.

*Not all plans support updating contributions in your online account. If you’re unable to update your election, contact your employer with the requested change.

**Please confirm with your employer that payroll deductions were adjusted after making changes in your online account.

Refunds or Credits
If you’ve already purchased a monthly pass for April or May using your benefits debit card, each transit authority has a different refund policy. Some may charge a fee to refund or only refund a portion of the total pass cost.

Please contact your transit authority for information on their refund policy. You may provide your benefits card as the form of payment, and the refund will be placed back onto the card.

Discovery SmartCommute™
We’re working with our three Discovery SmartCommute™ cities to assist our participants in refunds or credits. If you have not yet adjusted your May orders, please do so in your online account.

San Francisco (Clipper® card) Riders
You will receive a refund if your April monthly pass is unused. The refund will be applied in June and you’ll be able to confirm in your online account.

Washington D.C (WMATA SmarTrip® card) Riders
We recommend not purchasing your monthly pass in WMATA’s site in April if you do not need the benefit. The unused dollars will rollover to the next benefit month.

Chicago (Ventra® card) Riders
If you have an active 30-day March pass, you are eligible to receive a prorated credit. Please visit https://www.ventrachicago.com/covid-19/ for instructions on how to receive the one-time credit back to your Ventra account.

For your April pass, you can either keep your un-activated pass for future use or convert to a matching benefit value up to the account balance limit of $500 allowed on the VentraⓇ card.


Contact Us

Our Participant Services team is available Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central Time, with the exception of some major holidays.

Benefits

COBRA

Q: If we implement Disaster Relief Payments, can we make the plan effective  as of March 1, 2020 to cover already incurred expenses?
 
A: The Disaster Relief Payments can be retroactive to March 13, 2020, the date President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a federal disaster as defined under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. If you are considering an earlier effective date, you should consult your counsel.
 
Q: How long can we offer Disaster Relief Payments?
 
A: The duration of the plan can be determined by the employer.
 
Q: Does this plan offer a debit card to our employees?
 
A: Yes. Debit cards are available under this plan depending on what you determine is eligible.
 

For more information on Disaster Relief Payments download our comparison handout.

Q: If we implement an Emergency Spending Account, how far back can we make the plan effective?
 
A: An Emergency Spending Account can be retroactive to a date of your choosing.
 
Q: How is the Emergency Spending Account funded?
 
A: The Emergency Spending Account is funded with post-tax employer dollars. Funds provided to an employee would need to be reported on the employee’s W-2.
 
Q: How is the length of the Emergency Spending Account determined?
 
A: As the employer, you can determine the length of time you would like to offer the Emergency Spending Account.
 
Q: Does this plan offer a debit card to our employees?
 
A: Yes. Debit cards are available under this plan depending on what you determine is eligible. For more information on Disaster Relief Payments download our comparison handout.
 

For more information on Emergency Spending Accounts download our comparison handout.

Q: What is the purpose of a Lifestyle Spending Account?
 
A: A Lifestyle Spending Account is intended to cover physical, financial and emotional wellness and is customizable by the employer.
 
Q: How is the Lifestyle Spending Account funded?
 
A: The Lifestyle Spending Account is funded with post-tax employer dollars. Funds provided to an employee would need to be reported on the employee’s W-2.
 
Q: How is the length of the Lifestyle Spending Account determined?
 
A: As the employer, you can determine the length of time you would like to offer the Lifestyle Spending Account. Twelve (12) months is the most common.
 

For more information on Lifestyle Spending Accounts download our comparison handout.

Q: Are expenses related to the testing and treatment of COVID-19 allowable under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)?
 
A: Yes. On March 11, the IRS issued Notice 2020-15, which aims to help remove barriers for the testing and treatment of COVID-19. Notice 2020-15 extended the definition of what can be covered under a qualified High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met. Costs for medical care services received and items purchased associated with testing for and treatment of COVID-19 can now be covered expenses.
 
Q: Has the deadline to submit HSA contributions for the 2019 calendar year been extended?
 
A: Yes. In an FAQ released on March 24, the IRS confirmed that 2019 contributions may be accepted up to the filing deadline of July 15, 2020.
 
Q: What options do I have to fund our employees’ HSAs to help cover medical costs?
 
A: An employer contribution is a popular way to help employees cover expenses before their deductible is met. Discovery Benefits also offers HSA Advance, which allows employers to provide an advance of HSA funds before their employees have contributed those funds to their HSAs.
Q: Can we extend our run-out period to allow our employees more time to submit claims?
 
A: You may be able to amend your plan rules to extend your run-out period for your employees. Log in to LEAP™ by Discovery Benefits for important things to consider.
 
Q: Has the IRS announced any plans to extend the grace period?
 
A: At this time, the IRS has not announced any updates to the length of the allowable grace period.
 
Q: Are we allowed to update our plan document to allow mid-year changes to participant elections if needed?
 
A: As the employer, you own the information within the plan document. Discovery Benefits provides plan document assistance within your LEAP™ account. For more information on plan documents, log in to review this article. For information on whether you can allow mid-year changes to participant elections, consult your employee benefits or tax counsel.
 
Q: Do parents now working from home constitute a qualifying event for a Dependent Care FSA election change?
 
A: The IRS Dependent Care election change rules may allow participants to increase, decrease, add or revoke an election for dependent care benefits. Each change is dependent on the participant's situation and the election change rules under the employer's plan. This article explains IRS- approved qualifying events.
 
Q: If an employees makes changes to their accounts, can they also make future changes in 2020, or do they need to wait until the next open enrollment period?
 
A: Changes to FSA elections need to follow the IRS rules for qualifying events. We also recommend reviewing your plan documents to ensure your plan currently allows for mid-year changes.
 
Q: Can I provide employer contributions to my employees’ Dependent Care FSAs?
 
A: Yes, you can provide employer contributions to your employees’ Dependent Care FSAs. The total contributions to an employee’s account (including employer and employee) cannot exceed the IRS annual maximum. Log in to LEAP™ for details. Nondiscrimination rules apply.
Q: Can we cover a portion or all of our terminated employees’ COBRA coverage?
 
A: You can provide a subsidy to help lessen the burden of COBRA coverage. Log in to review this article for instructions on how to add a subsidy.
 
Q: When do I have to offer COBRA?
 
A: Our COBRA Cheat Sheet outlines basic COBRA regulations on COBRA qualifying events and when COBRA needs to be offered. Employers should consult their own employee benefits or tax counsel regarding their specific situations.
 
Q: Do we need to offer FSA through COBRA?
 
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