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Why is Preventative Care so Important During COVID?

Why is Preventative Care so Important During COVID?

Since the start of the global pandemic, the number of outpatient clinic visits has decreased immensely. While this makes sense, due to the highly contagious virus, it can be a troubling sight.

Preventative care services have truly never been more important. Now, more than ever, patients need to be proactive about their health. How can you ensure you are being proactive with your preventative care during COVID?

What are the dangers of waiting for your routine appointments?

While visiting the doctor’s office during a global pandemic may seem unsettling, the risk associated with avoiding ongoing, preventative health care is high. Small health issues can turn into larger health problems if left untreated. Especially during this time, when the highest risk patients for contracting COVID-19 are those with chronic illness or worsening conditions.

Now is not the time to begin ignoring your wellbeing. 

Eating well, getting sleep, and exercising regularly is more important than ever before. Ensure you make your health a top priority during these uncertain, stressful times. Stressful situations, like the one we’re all experiencing right now, can lower your immune system. Take care of your mental and physical health to ensure your immune system is prepared for whatever comes your way.

If you feel you need to go into the doctor’s office, contact your doctor first!

If you feel unsure about returning to the physical doctor’s office, reach out to your doctor. See what precautions your provider is taking to ensure their patients remain safe. Most outpatient clinics are taking these measures to ensure their safety:

  • Enforcing masks at all times
  • Temperature checks when you enter the facility
  • Limited number of patients allowed in the waiting room at once
  • Reconfiguring their space to ensure proper social distancing requirements are met.

If you still are unsure about returning to a physical doctor’s office, book a telehealth visit!

Telehealth services have grown immensely since the start of COVID-19. There are many potential uses for telehealth services. Here are a few:

  • Screen patients with potential COVID-19 symptoms
  • Provide low-risk urgent care for those with non-COVID-19-related conditions
  • Mental and behavioral health check-ins
  • Chronic health condition check-ups and medication management
  • Support for patients with chronic health conditions, like nutrition counseling
  • Doctors can monitor clinical signs of some chronic health conditions
  • Case management
  • Follow-up appointments 

With a variety of options, it is important that you don’t put your preventative care on the backburner during COVID-19. Not only does it help ensure you don’t contract COVID-19, but preventative care can also help detect early signs of other diseases and illnesses. Do you have proper healthcare to cover your needs during this uncertain time? At SBMA, we understand that you need a health insurance plan that covers all your needs, visit the site today to learn more.

Why is Preventative Care so Important During COVID?

The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine

The implementation of telemedicine has risen immensely over the last few months, as social distancing requirements were put into place. Telemedicine can be a great way to communicate with your doctor in the safety of your own home. Virtual visits can be used to detect symptoms of COVID-19, fevers, rashes, cold and flu symptoms, aches and pains, minor musculoskeletal injuries, small infections, and UTIs. While telemedicine can be an effective way to treat patients, there are pros and cons to consider.

The pros associated with telemedicine include:

  • Convenience. According to a study, 74% of patients prefer easy access to healthcare services over in-person appointments. Not only does this provide convenience for all patients, but it also helps those who live in remote locations have access to proper patient care. 
  • Cost-effective options. These services reduce healthcare service costs significantly. It helps to attract new patients, reduce no-shows, and reduce overhead for physicians who decide to utilize telemedicine.
  • Patients minimize unnecessary visits. As a patient, it can be a waste of time and money to go to the doctor or ER for minor medical consultations. If your symptoms do not require an in-person visit, opt for a telemedicine appointment instead! 
  • Telemedicine can lead to improved healthcare quality. When it is easier for providers to engage with patients, and remotely track their health with monitoring systems, they can work to identify problems as they develop. 

Now, let’s look at some of the cons linked to telemedicine:

  • Sometimes in-person visits are necessary to diagnose. Physical exams are impossible over the phone, which may be necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of a patient. For example, the COVID-19 test requires a nose and throat swab, to diagnose, so you must go to the doctor physically.
  • Security concerns. With the relaxation of telemedicine requirements due to the global pandemic, security concerns may arise. Cybercriminals can hack into telemedicine systems to steal personal healthcare information. 
  • You may not know the doctor providing your care. Utilizing virtual care services may mean you have a stranger on the other end of the call. These doctors will likely be unfamiliar with you and your medical history, and it may affect the level of care they can provide.
  • Training and equipment can be expensive. Reorganizing IT staff to train and create effective equipment costs both time and money. To ensure ROI from implementing telemedicine, staff, physicians, and medical staff needed to be trained properly. 

Although there are a few things to work out within the telemedicine technology, as you work to implement telemedicine into your benefit programs, the benefits of telemedicine can make a large impact. At SBMA, we believe in the power of telemedicine. That’s why we offer free telemedicine programs in all of our benefit programs. Learn more here.

What to do if your employee has COVID

employee benefits

With companies beginning to return to work, there are a few procedures that employers need to put in place to keep their employees and customers safe. One thing employers need to put thought into is how they will handle what happens when an employee displays symptoms of COVID-19. Furthermore, when an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, or if employees are exposed to COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms. Here is some guidance on what to do if your employee potentially has COVID-19.

First, what to do if an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms…

According to the CDC, if an employee has symptoms when they arrive to work or become sick when they are at work, they “should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors, and sent home.” Be sure to communicate the protocol. If they develop symptoms outside of work, they should notify leadership and stay home, away from all employees. 

When an employee does need to stay home due to illness, they should follow the CDC-recommended steps to help prevent the spread of the virus. Once they are sent home from work, employees should remain home for at least ten days. 

Next, consider what to do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19…

In most cases, as a business owner, you do not need to shut down your facility. But work to close off any areas that the person who might have had COVID-19 had been in for an extended period. When you have the opportunity, follow CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations to disinfect your workspace.

Consider how to determine what employees came into contact with the employee who may have COVID-19. Employers should inform their employees that someone they have come into contact with has Coronavirus. Ensure to maintain confidentiality to remain in compliance with ADA regulations. 

What about employees who have been exposed, but are not showing symptoms?

Employees who have been in close contact with someone infected (someone who has been within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period) but are not showing symptoms should remain home, or in an isolated area, and practice social distancing for 14 days. 

The CDC explains critical infrastructure employees can continue to work as long as they remain symptom-free and more precautions are put in place to protect the community. Be sure to advise these employees to wear a cloth face covering at all times during the 14 days following exposure. 

As we all continue to understand the implications of returning to the physical workspace, be sure to keep your employees safe and informed as you move forward. Take proper precautions to ensure your workforce and your surrounding community remains safe. For more information regarding COVID-19 resources, check out our COVID-19 page.

What to do if your employee has COVID

How Have Your Employee Benefits Changed Since the Start of COVID?

How Have Your Employee Benefits Changed Since the Start of COVID?

Before Coronavirus swept the world with high unemployment rates, a strain on healthcare resources, and economic strife, employers were thinking creatively about how to not only retain their existing employees but also attract the best employees with benefits. While some states have been more affected by the health concerns surrounding COVID-19, almost all have felt the effects of the economic downturn. How have your employee benefits changed since the start of COVID? Once you identify the changes, how can you begin to prepare your insurance plan for post-pandemic employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees?

Despite the large unemployment numbers we’ve seen over the last few months, employers should still consider offering employee benefits that align with their employees’ needs. 

Employers had to act fast as stay-at-home orders went into place rather quickly. Therefore, they had to establish work-from-home policies, provide external education opportunities, provide new leave requirements, and anticipate new policies for return to work phases. All of this combined with the fear of potentially contracting COVID-19 can be overwhelming. 

However your employee benefits have changed since the start of COVID, here are a few ways you can look to the future for your employee’s benefits:

  • Get proactive: As an employer, understand the implications of layoffs, furloughs, and other workplace changes. You also need to understand benefits utilization, headcounts, and changes to employment policies. 
  • Rework your employment policies: What does the return to the physical workspace look like? How can you ensure your employees stay safe when they come back? What happens when an employee tests positive for COVID-19? Think creatively about how to run your business effectively outside of your physical space. 
  • Consider your compliance: Have you experienced changes to your workforce? If you are a large employer (with 50 or more full-time employees), and you do not offer benefits to 95% of full-time or full-time equivalent employees you may be opening yourself up to liability. 
  • Include Telemedicine options: Telemedicine use has seen a drastic increase over the last few months. Be sure telemedicine is offered in your employee’s benefit programs. 

As we all continue to understand what the effects of Coronavirus will be, as an employer it’s best to try to get out in front of it. Ensure both your business and your employees stay safe. Contact us to begin crafting your benefit plans today!

Your Guide to Post Pandemic Employee Benefits

When is it safe to go back to a doctor’s office?

When is it safe to go back to a doctor's office?

Hospitals and doctor’s offices seem like the worst place to be during a pandemic. Many medical offices, hospitals, and surgeons canceled non-emergency procedures to accommodate the influx of coronavirus cases. Knowing that the numbers of cases are still high, it may be anxiety-inducing to go back to the doctor for your normal check-up. Businesses have started to reopen, and doctors have started to schedule more non-emergency procedures. Is it safe to go back to the doctor’s office? 

The pressure for hospitals and doctors offices to re-open is great even while patients are wary to return. The financial implications of reopening serve as incentives for some medical offices to reopen, as the pandemic has caused the hospital industry to lose about $50 billion per month. Elective procedures are the lifeblood of hospitals, financially;  without them, hospitals have struggled. 

While doctor’s offices are seen as a place of healing and safety, in the current climate it may be difficult to choose to go back.  Telemedicine offers a solution for those who are worried about seeing their doctor in person. Telemedicine offers a solution for non-emergency care front eh safety and convenience of your own home while still ensuring that your symptoms are reviewed and a medical professional is monitoring your case. 

Health care providers are taking care to keep their patients safe. These precautions include: 

  • COVID-19 screening questionnaires
  • No-touch thermometer temperature check for employees and patients. 
  • Required face masks
  • Implementing social distancing measures in populated areas
  • Employees are tested regularly
  • Patients may be tested a few days before their procedure

While health care providers are covering a lot of bases, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible. Including:

  • Take your temperature before you go to your appointment
  • Wash your hands before you leave the house and sanitize regularly
  • Wear a mask and gloves if you feel it’s necessary
  • Avoid touching your face, especially areas like your nose, eyes, and mouth
  • Show up on time, not before to avoid overcrowding in the waiting room
  • Try to stay away from touching surfaces
  • Practice proper social distancing measures

While you begin to navigate returning to in-person patient care, consider your options and take the proper precautions. 

If you can utilize Virtual Health/ telemedicine, now is the time to use this service.  While telemedicine can’t replace all in-person appointments, it can replace regular checkups, virus check-ins, cold and flu-like symptoms and rashes, and many other non-life-threatening cases.  For those who still feel the need to go into the MD’s office: if you take the proper precautions when you are in-person you can navigate this new normal and stay safe!

return to the doctor's office

Virtual Health is Saving Lives During Coronavirus

How Virtual Health Services are Saving Lives During the Coronavirus Crisis

With the outbreak of COVID-19 healthcare workers and providers have had to come up with better ways to diagnose and treat patients. The number of patients who need to be seen for health issues both related to and peripheral to the coronavirus has put a strain on our hospitals.  It is in this environment that Telemedicine has found its spotlight. Telemedicine or Virtual Health Care is the practice of performing virtual appointments and check-ups for patients. Especially now, this keeps both patients and healthcare workers safe while continuing to provide care for those in need. This is only the beginning of how virtual health is saving lives during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual healthcare has slowly been taking hold as more and more of the norm in recent years. The cost savings alone make virtual care the right choice for many doctors, hospitals, and patients.  $7 billion of physicians’ time can be saved by switching in-person visits to virtual appointments.

These days, in quarantine, many people need the ability to have their doctor’s appointments at home. Even during the best of times, for many, the convenience is key to successful follow up appointments and check-ins.  Telemedicine allows for a safe environment to ask questions, get simple diagnoses and to get prescriptions from your doctor while remaining at home.  

Doctors around the country have implemented telemedicine and online appointments to help keep all patients safe from COVID-19. Patients with a smartphone or computer can visit a provider in a secure network. Dr. Chris Davis, Medical Director for UCHealth’s Virtual Urgent Care says, “COVID-19 is quite infectious, so if you can stay home and get medical advice, that gives you two advantages. First, if you’re sick, you’re not going to be bringing your illness into a doctor’s office or a hospital. Second, you won’t be exposed to other patients.”

These changes to what we have thought of as normal healthcare have given people affordable, manageable options to care for themselves and others throughout this uncertain time. As we work to navigate COVID-19, the best thing we can do is keep ourselves and others safe from harm by ensuring we do everything we can to stop the spread.

Insurance Coverage and Coronavirus Testing

Will My Insurance Cover the Cost of Coronavirus Testing?

As we continue to navigate through the effects of COVID-19, many questions arise when it comes to insurance coverage. Does your specific insurance cover testing? Does it cover treatment? How can I find out my coverage options? 

The short answer is it depends on your coverage. Health insurance coverage varies widely, depending on where you live and how you obtain your coverage. Almost half of Americans receive their insurance coverage from their employers. Those plans are managed by both the federal and state guidelines, which depend on the group size and whether or not the plans are self-insured or fully-insured. So how does Coronavirus coverage fit into these health plans?

Let’s begin with testing. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act states the Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance plans are required to cover the cost of Coronavirus testing, without cost-sharing or pre-authorization requirements. This is including lab service costs and provider fees at doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, and emergency rooms where tests are given. Because this act is federal law, self-insured and fully-insured plans apply to this rule. However, the testing coverage requirements that are imposed on some states are only applicable to fully-insured plans.

Plans that are not considered minimum essential coverage, for example short-term health plans, fixed indemnity plans, and healthcare sharing ministry plans, are not required to cover COVID-19 testing. Some of these plans do volunteer to cover COVID-19 testing, so look to your plan for specifics.

Some states, like Washington, have extended their testing coverage requirements to include these short-term plans, but most states have not imposed further requirements for these plans.

If you are uninsured, states can use their Medicaid programs to cover COVID-19 testing to cover their uninsured residents. There is $1 billion in federal funding to reimburse providers to cover COVID-19 testing for uninsured patients.

Now, let’s get into treatment coverage. As of right now, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, most people will not need treatment, but around 20% of patients will be hospitalized, and 20% of those patients will need intensive care. This inpatient care is considered an essential health benefit for all ACA-compliant individual and small group health plans. Large group plans are technically not required to cover essential health benefits, but they are required to provide “substantial” coverage for inpatient care.

Even with coverage, inpatient care is expensive. The ACA states that all non-grandfathered/grandmothered plans must have in-network out-of-pocket maximums that can reach up to $8,150 for a single individual. Most COVID-19 treatment costs will not exceed this amount, but many health plans out-of-pocket limits are below that amount. Which leaves patients that need hospitalization with a four-figure invoice.

Some states, like New Mexico and Massachusetts have required state-regulated insurers to cover treatment and testing without cost-sharing. Minnesota is encouraging their providers to do the same. 

Most states are both encouraging and requiring state-regulated providers to allow testing and treatment as in-network, whether or not the medical providers are in the plan’s network. Patients may still be subject to balance billing because out-of-network providers do not need to accept the payment as payment-in-full.

Here are some ways to ensure that you are protected during these uncertain times:

  • If you are uninsured there is a COVID-19 special enrollment period in some states. If your state is included, an ACA-compliant plan is a great option. If you have a low income, you could also be eligible for Medicaid.
  • If you currently have health insurance, understand what your plan covers, and how your cost-sharing responsibilities for in-patient and out-patient care may apply.
  • Look at your health plan to see how it handles prior authorizations.
  • Look at the details of your health plan’s provider network. If you see in-network providers you have a better chance of avoiding balance billing.
  • Check to see if telehealth is covered, for less-severe cases, this is the best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some health plans are eliminating or reducing cost-sharing for telehealth services.
  • If you have an HSA-qualified plan, you can devote your pre-tax money to your account for the year. The money you contribute to your plan is able to be withdrawn tax-free for out-of-pocket health care expenses.

What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

In March 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the initial coronavirus relief bill aimed at assisting families living in the United States. The new law requires small employers—those with fewer than 500 employees—to provide limited paid-leave benefits to employees who are affected by the coronavirus emergency. Small employers receive new tax credits and federal payroll-tax relief to pay for the new mandatory benefits.

Mandatory employee paid leave.

The Act requires emergency paid sick leave. It is limited to $511 per day for up to 10 days (up to $5,110 in total) for an eligible employee in coronavirus quarantine or seeking a coronavirus diagnosis. An employee can also receive emergency paid sick leave of up to $200 per day for up to 10 days (up to $2,000 in total) to care for a quarantined family member or a child whose school or child-care location has been closed due to the pandemic.

The Act also requires that small-business employees obtain the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected family leave if the employee or a family member is in coronavirus quarantine or if the school or child-care location of the employee’s child is closed due to the coronavirus. The employer must pay at least two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day, subject to an overall per-employee maximum of $10,000 in total family-leave payments.

Small-employer tax credits

The Act grants a new tax credit to small employers to cover the now-required payments to employees who take time off under the new law’s emergency sick-leave and family-leave provisions.

Specifically, a small employer can collect a tax credit equal to 100% of qualified emergency sick-leave and family-leave payments made by the employer according to the Act. However, the credit only covers leave payments made during the period beginning on a date specified by the Secretary of the Treasury and ending December 31, 2020. The beginning date will be within 15 days of March 18, 2020, when the Act became law.

The credit increases to cover a portion of an employer’s qualified health-plan expenses that are allocable to emergency sick-leave and family-leave wages.

The new credit offsets the Social Security tax component of the employer’s federal payroll-tax bill. Any excess credit is refundable, meaning the government will issue a payment to the employer for the excess.

Warning: The credit is not available to employers that are already receiving the pre-existing credit for paid family and medical leave under Internal Revenue Code Section 45S.

Small-employer FICA tax relief

Sick-leave and family-leave payments mandated by the Act are exempt from the 6.2% Social Security tax component of the employer’s federal payroll tax that generally applies to wages. Employers must pay the 1.45% Medicare tax component of the federal payroll tax, but they can claim a credit for that outlay.

The Families First Coronavirus Act is just the first step of many that are sure to be taken by the U.S. government as they continue to face the COVID-19 outbreak. You can read answers to common questions, apply for aid, and more on the Department of Labor’s Q&A page here.

For a list of COVID-19 resources, click here.

What Employers Need to Know About FFRCA and Benefits

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on the financial health of thousands of companies in the United States. These employers have seen the enormous reduction in business and the effect it has on their employee benefit programs, and adjust them to meet the needs of both their employees and their business. These adjustments still carry certain obligations the employer must meet under federal legislation. So what do employers need to know about FFRCA and benefits?

Employers have had to reduce or terminate a portion of their workforce, put furloughs in place, and reduce hours and compensation for their employees in response to the crisis. All of these changes impact the employee’s benefit plans and policies, so an employer must review said plans and policies and make adjustments accordingly. Here’s what to consider while doing so:

Service provider contracts for employee benefit plans

Review the terms for existing contracts with multiple service providers, as the fees related to administrative contracts can be determined by the number of participants on your plan. Any reduction in workforce or hours for your employees would affect the total number of eligible employees, which could result in additional fees within the contract. The stay-at-home order may affect a service providers ability to meet their obligations within the contract, as well. Many of these contracts will contain a “Force Majeure” clause that excuses a party for nonperformance due to extraordinary events. Each of these provisions is contract-specific — be sure to review yours. A service provider’s nonperformance in regard to ERISA plans could pose a problem for employers. Employers should seek legal advice in terms of navigating their service providers contracts during this unprecedented time.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave and FMLA Expansion

On March 18, 2020, The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act was enacted. It requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave and additional FMLA benefits to their employees. Because of the added cost to employers, the FFRCA provides a quarterly payroll tax credit which is equivalent to 100% of qualified sick and leave wages paid to employees as emergency paid sick leave and emergency family and medical leave.

Health and Welfare Plans

  • COVID-19 Specific Coverage: The FFCRA requires group health plans to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing related costs, healthcare provider services, and facility costs without the participant’s deductibles, copay, or coinsurance. The FFCRA also ensures that prior authorization and other medical management requirements be waived regarding COVID-19 services. In addition to the FFCRA, the CARES Act requires group health plans to cover preventive services and vaccines related to COVID-19.
  • Reduction in hours (or furloughing): Specific plan or policy terms determine whether furloughed employees or employees with a reduction of hours can keep their health coverage. Many plans require employees to uphold a minimum amount of hours to maintain coverage. Employers might be able to amend their plan or alter the policy to expand coverage or modify procedures for employee premium payments, but must seek approval from their insurance provider before any changes take place. 
  • COBRA Continuation Coverage: COBRA continuation coverage is offered to employees who have been terminated or have reduced hours. Employers can provide a subsidy to help their employees cover the COBRA continuation costs. Be sure to consider any discrimination issues that may arise if the subsidy is not offered throughout your company. 
  • ACA Employer Mandate: ACA requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees (who average 30 hours a week or more) provide minimum essential coverage to their employees.
  • HIPAA: employers who are covered under HIPAA and their associates must remember that HIPAA applies during the COVID-19 pandemic. With changing work conditions, ensure that you review and update HIPAA privacy practices to ensure your safeguards are in place.
  • Cafeteria Plan Elections: There cannot be any change in mid-year election choices based on employment status change. 
  • Premium adjustments: The potential reduction or change in your workforce could affect the employee eligibility for health insurance policies, which could bring about premium adjustments. 
  • Value of welfare benefits: Welfare benefits and their value is tied to employee compensation, reducing their compensation can reduce the value of these benefits for those employees. 

Retirement Plans

  • There are fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA in a market similar to the one COVID-19 has caused. ERISA plans should pay specific attention to fiduciary duties, like acting prudently, diversifying plan assets, and complying with plan provisions. 
  • Participant Access to Retirement Plan Accounts: 
    • The CARES Act permits multiple situations for employees. Employers can expand participant access to specific retirement accounts for “coronavirus-related distribution,” without subjection to 10% early withdrawal penalties and must be repaid over a 3-year period. 
    • The CARES Act also allows employers to increase the maximum loan amount for qualifying individuals if their 401k plan allows participant loans. 
    • Hardship Withdrawals: Most plans allow for hardship withdrawals in areas that are federally declared disaster areas. These withdrawals are still subject to the 10% withdrawal penalty who have not reached the age of 59 ½ and are taxable in the year they are withdrawn. 
    • In-Service Distributions: If the employee has reached the age of 59 ½, many plans allow their participants to receive in-service distributions without a withdrawal penalty. In light of the crisis, employers should consider a plan amendment to expand or add in-service distribution to defined contribution plans or benefit plans.
  • Reducing or Freezing Benefits and Contributions: Employers may be looking to reduce operating costs by reducing or freezing benefits or suspend employer matching or nonelective contributions. This requires at least a 45-day notice before the reduction is put into effect. Discretionary employer matching and nonelective contributions may be suspended or reduced prospectively and may or may not require a plan amendment. Consider the IRS rules that prevent cutbacks in benefits.
  • Funding Relief for Single-Employer Defined Benefit Plans: The CARES Act gives single-employer benefit plans more time to meet funding obligations by delaying the due date until January 1, 2021, with interest on the delayed payment. CARES Act also allows a single-employer defined benefit plan sponsor can elect to treat the plan’s different funding target attainment percentage to the last plan ending before January 1, 2020.
  • Voluntary Termination of Qualified Retirement Plans: Due to the change in economic circumstances some employers may feel they need to terminate their qualified plans. All participants must be fully vested in their accounts under the plan during termination. However, there is a rule that employers who terminate a 401k plan may not establish a new plan within 12 months of the termination. Participants and beneficiaries must receive a special notice at least 45 days prior to the effective date of termination.
  • Partial Termination of Qualified Retirement Plans: Reducing your workforce by 20% or more of qualified retirement plan participants in a plan year that is not considered routine turnover could end up in partial termination of the plan. All participants who have been affected must be fully vested in their accounts. 
  • Deadlines for 403(b) Plans and Pre-Approved Defined Benefit Plans Extended: The IRS is extending the last day of the initial remedial amendment period for 403(b) plans from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020. They also are extending both the April 30, 2020 deadlines for an employer to adopt a pre-approved defined benefit plan and submit a determination letter application under the second 6-year remedial amendment cycle and the April 30, 2020 end of the second 6-year remedial amendment cycle for pre-approved defined benefit plans deadline until July 31, 2020.

Incentive Compensation/ Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans

There are strict rules that Code Section 409A adheres to regarding the time and type of payment incentive compensation and other non-qualified deferred compensation a company puts in place. This could include penalties for both the employer and the employees. As you work to navigate potential liquidity issues through the COVID-19, ensure that you navigate Code Section 409 A properly by addressing these issues:

  • Paying Annual Bonuses by March 15th: If you missed the March 15th deadline due to COVID-19 related issues with administrative duties or if the payment jeopardized the employer’s ability to continue, the payment may be made as soon as possible after the unforeseen circumstances are alleviated.
  • Cancellation of Deferrals/ Unscheduled Distributions: In the event of an unforeseeable event, an employee’s deferral election may be canceled, if the plan allows. Employers can also allow a participant to receive distributions if their plan contains these distributions. The employee still must show that emergency expenses cannot be covered by insurance, liquidation of assets, or ceasing deferrals under their plan. The distribution will also be limited to the amount needed to satisfy the participant’s financial needs. 
  • Scheduled Distributions/Distributions Payable Upon Separation From Service: Most non-qualified deferred compensation plans provide payment upon an employee’s separation from service. Separation of service includes termination or a reduction in hours, and the employee would be entitled to a distribution from their plan.
  • Equity Award Considerations: Employers should consider if they should update their stock option valuation that considers the COVID-19 pandemic. This could affect the issuance of equity compensation.
  • Termination of Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Plans: Section 409A does allow a voluntary plan termination and distribution of benefits under specific circumstances, but these rules do not allow termination in connection with a downturn of employers’ financial status. This would require similar non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements to be terminated, and payments would be delayed 12 months after the plan is terminated. Once this is done, the employer cannot adopt a new non-qualified deferred compensation arrangement of the same type for 3 years.

As an employer, there are many things to consider with the changing economic times. For more information visit our site.

Health Insurance Options for Coronavirus Job Loss

As COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives, unemployment has reached a record high, jumping to 14.7% as of April 2020. There are many things to consider when assessing these new statistics and, as an employer or an employee, it’s important to ask yourself this question: What health insurance options are there for those that have experienced job loss due to Coronavirus?

If you’ve lost your job due to Coronavirus or have experienced a reduction in hours, here’s what you can do:

If you’ve lost your health plan through your job you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If you have lost your coverage within the past 60 days, or you expect to lose coverage in the next 60 days, you are also eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. 

If you have experienced a reduction of hours and are part of a Marketplace plan, you should update your application to report any household income changes within 30 days. This may lead to more savings than you’re getting now.

If you have experienced a furlough, depending on the status of your coverage, you might be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. You might also qualify for a premium tax credit to assist your Marketplace coverage payment.

For people with COBRA continuation coverage, you may be able to qualify for the Special Enrollment Period. Based on your pre-COBRA coverage, you have 60 days to enroll in Marketplace coverage. You may also qualify for premium tax credits, only if you end your COBRA continuation coverage. 

If you have lost your job, but your company did not offer coverage, you typically do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Job loss on its own does not make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

If you are unable to pay your insurance premiums due to Coronavirus there are some things to consider: First, check with your insurance providers to see about extensions. Usually, there is a grace period determined by state law. If you receive financial assistance with your premiums, there is a three-month grace period where your plan cannot be terminated for failure to pay premiums. 

If you know that you qualified for a Special Enrollment Period, but missed the deadline due to Coronavirus impact, there is a chance you can be eligible for another Special Enrollment Period. 

As employers continue to understand how to effectively run their businesses throughout Coronavirus, we want to help you understand how to remain covered and safe. Here is a list of our COVID-19 resources that may be helpful as you work to understand what’s next for you and your company.