Businesses are rapidly developing strategies to continue functioning and protect their workforces in the face of the growing Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. For obvious reasons, businesses may want to deploy health screening, testing, and professional medical advice services—including telemedicine—to their employees and dependents. It is critical that employers’ health plans support these efforts and not get in the way of them. For example, businesses may not want coverage, co-pay, and deductible issues to discourage employees from taking advantage of the services businesses are deploying. Making sure this is the case raises a number of technical issues for businesses to consider:
- Can health plan deductibles and employee co-insurance obligations be waived for screenings and treatment of the coronavirus, including, among others, in a high deductible health plan with a health savings account?
- Are health plans required to cover screenings and treatment of the coronavirus?
- How much of the costs for screening and treating the coronavirus are health plans required to pay?
- If a location needs to close or temporarily lay off employees:
- Must the employer continue to offer health coverage to affected employees?
- How do affected employees pay health insurance premiums while on unpaid leave?
- What assistance can employers offer to affected employees?
- What information do privacy laws permit employers and health plans to share about an employee’s coronavirus diagnosis?