CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES

STEPS TO PREVENT ILLNESS:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019. THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT ILLNESS IS TO AVOID BEING EXPOSED TO THE VIRUS

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.

* Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet)
* through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs
or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who
are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Clean your hands often.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily availabler, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. AND stay at least 6 feet apart when encountering another person.

Stay home if you’re sick.

Stay home if you are sick. If you need medical care, make sure to call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.

Cover coughs and sneezes.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

CORONAVIRUS AND TELADOC SERVICES

BENEFITS:

Coverage – Covers the employee and all family members, spouse, domestic partner and dependent children up to age 26.

Unlimited Calls to a Board-Certified Physician – 24 hours, 7 days a week 365 days a year, weekends and holidays

Options for Mental Health Services – Members over 18 can easily connect with mental health professionals 7 days a week to help overcome anxiety or other mental health issues.

No Co-pays – No cost at all for the calls. Co-pays usually discourage use. Only the low monthly premium.

Quick and Easy Implementation – Teladoc is offering businesses and organizations that are currently clients of theirs a quick start program for any employees not currently covered. they can be implemented in approximately 10-15 days.

Remote Implementation – All implementation can be done via online, no need for an in person meeting, etc. Very minimum effort on your part. We would need a census (you should already have) of an agreement.

Current coverage – Your current health insurance plan may already have it in place. Review the coverage and make sure your employees know they have it.

IRS RESPONSE TO COVID-19

  • Tax Day – July 15th The Treasury Department announced on March 21, 2020 that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15. 2020 to July 15, 2020.
  • Treasury, IRS and Labor announce plan to implement Coronavirus-related leave for worker and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave. On March 20, 2020, the U.S, treasury. IRS and Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits designed to immediately and fully reimburse then, dollar for dollar for the cost of providing Coronavirus related leave to their employees.
  • IRS: High-deductible health plans can cover Coronavirus costs. The IRS on March 11, 2020 advised that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status.

CARRIER’S RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS

BLUE CROSS / BLUE SHIELD-

BCBSMT Waives member Cost-Sharing for COVID-19 Treatment –
Thursday, April 2, 20220


HELENA- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) announced today it is waiving member cost=sharing, including deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance, related to treatment for Covid-19. The waiver applies to costs associated with COVID-19 treatment at in-network facilities and treatment for out-of-network emergencies.

The new policy applies to all BCBSMT fully insured group plan, individual and family plan, Medicare (excluding Part D plans), and Medicare Supplement plans, BCBSMT will work in partnership with self-funded employer groups that decide to offer the same waivers. Our policy is effective for treatment received April 1-May 31. BCBSMT will continue to reassess this policy as circumstances warrant.

“As we navigate uncharted territory during the pandemic, we want to ensure our members are confident they have access to the care they need,” BCBSMT President, Collette Hanson said. “It’s important for us to impart peace of mind during a time of so much uncertainty.”

Other changes announced by BCBSMT in response to COVID-19 during this public health emergency include:

* Expanding access to telehealth coverage
* Waiving pre-authorization and members’ cost sharing for testing to diagnose COVID-19
* Lifting cost-sharing in-network medically necessary services delivered via telemedicine
* Waiving prior authorization requirements for transfers to in-network, alternative post-acute facilities until April 30, 2020
* Launching dedicated COVID-19 educational websites so members can easily access information and resources around COVID-19
* Opening a special-enrollment period for fully insured commercial group account customers.


**For the latest information on BCBSMT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other information and tips to stay healthy, please visit BCBSMT.com


MUST-

We are closely monitoring activity around the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on our members, our employees and the communities we serve. While the COVID-19 situation is ever-changing, our commitment to our customers remains the same. We are constantly working on their behalf and will continue to review and process ancillary insurance claims on an individual, claim-by-claim basis—just as we have always done. Our ancillary coverages include life, short- and long-term disability, accident, critical illness, vision and dental. Coronavirus Support and Resources Hotline1 To provide additional support and peace of mind, we are now offering a special Support and Resources Hotline at 1-844-244-7657. All of our ancillary clients can utilize this new Employee Assistance Hotline from ComPsych®, at no extra charge. The Impact of Quarantine on a Disability Claim For disability lines of coverage, a quarantine, in and of itself, would not necessarily result in a claim being approved. The definition of disability requirements in the certificate of insurance are applicable. Business Resiliency Program Our Business Resiliency Program is designed to ensure operational resiliency by protecting our business processes and minimizing the impact of disruptions to our customers and business partners. Our program includes proactive work groups that address potential operational impacts and continuity, human resources matters, communications and customer support. Through this program, we are taking extra precautions to ensure an uninterrupted service experience for our customers.

COVID-19 UPDATE – MUST

Montana Unified School Trust (MUST) will be waiving member cost-sharing, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, related to treatment for COVID-19 received April 1 through May 31, 2020. The waiver applies to costs associated with COVID-19 treatment at in-network facilities and treatment for out-of-network emergencies. 

MUST will continue to reassess this policy as circumstances warrant.
Other MUST changes in response to COVID-19 during this public health emergency include:  

  • Expanding access to telehealth coverage
  • Waiving preauthorization and members’ cost-sharing for testing to diagnose COVID-19
  • Lifting restrictions on early prescription fills
  • Lifting cost-sharing for in-network medically necessary services delivered via telemedicine through April 30, 2020
  • Waiving prior authorization requirements for transfers to in-network, alternative post-acute facilities until April 30, 2020

Coronavirus Support and Resources Hotline For additional support and resources, call our hotline toll-free at 1-844-244-7657.

HEATH EQUITY EMPLOYER SERVICES


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed into law today contains important provisions that will affect HSAs, HRAs and FSAs.

Effective immediately: HSA-qualified health plans can now cover telehealth and other remote care service expenses below the HDHP statutory deductible limit, or at no or low-cost sharing, without affecting an account holder’s ability to continue contributing to their HSA. This provision will last until December 31, 2021. Over-the-counter drugs and medicines can be paid for or reimbursed through an FSA, HRA or HSA without a doctor’s prescription. Menstrual care products are now considered a qualified medical expense and are eligible for payment or reimbursement through an FSA, HRA or HSA. All expenses incurred after December 31, 2019 qualify, and the provision has no expiration date. Right now, our team is working to: Update health care plan eligible expense lists as appropriate. Develop a plan amendment template to address these changes. Communicate with your team to help them take advantage of these changes. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. As always, we’re here for you.

MONTANA HEALTH CO-OP


We are all facing unprecedented times. We know many of you are facing challenges in maintaining business operations and staffing levels prior to this global disruption. The CO-OP wants to be here to support you and do anything we can to assist in easing the burdens of business owner in the short term. It is with that in mind that the CO-OP will be extending the option of group coverage up to 6 months through calendar year 2020, so long as premiums continue to be paid for employees that find themselves in the following situations:

  Employees who are experiencing a reduction in work hours and not meeting current eligibility of work hours to be covered on a group health plan, Employees who have been laid off from their current employer, Employees who have been temporarily laid off and anticipate to be rehired in the future, allow a shortened waiting period for an employee to be added to the group employer health coverage through open enrollment for new or rehired employees by their respective employer. To accommodate the above situations, employers will need to keep premiums paid to current and meet all other designated guidelines as a covered entity of the CO-OP. The CO-OP will continue to follow current grace period and cancellations policies for payment of premiums that are in place now which allow employers a reasonable time frame to stay in good standing.  Please do not hesitate to reach out directly if you have questions.  

Jeff Swingley Director of Sales Mountain Health CO-OP & Montana Health CO-OP

PACIFIC SOURCE

In this unprecedented time, we are trying to keep up the rapidly changing environment due to COVID-19. We have set the following in place, effective TODAY and extending through June 30th.

INDIVIDUAL PLANS

  • For plans purchased on the Exchange – Pacific Source will follow CMS guidelines to determine eligibility.
  • For plans purchased directly-Pacific Source will extend the premium grace period from 30 days to 60 days for March & April bills.
  • Reinstatements – For plans purchased on the Exchange and directly,
  • Pacific Source will extend the reinstatement from 15 days to 30 days. Individuals will now have 30 days to make missed premium payments to be reinstated.

Small and Large Groups

  • Pacific Source will extend the grace period from 30 days to 60 days for March and April Bills.
  • Reinstatements- Pacific Source will extend the reinstatement period from 15 days to 30 days. Groups termed for non-payment will now have 30 days to make the premium payment and be reinstated.
  • Pacific Source will allow employers to pay for and keep furloughed workers covered by their plans.
  • Pacific Source will eliminate the “minimum hours per week worked” requirement for an employee to be eligible for benefits.

PacificSource is now waiving all medical
costs related to COVID-19
In our continuing effort to expand COVID-19 coverage, PacificSource is now
eliminating member cost shares for testing and treatment of COVID-19.

Expanded coverage now includes COVID-19 treatment
PacificSource is waiving member costs for COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, and
treatment regardless of place of care for all fully-insured members from
January 31 through June 30 (or through the end of the crisis). This cost waiver
applies to:

· Individual members
· Fully-insured employer group members
· Medicare members
· Medicaid members: For members enrolled in a PacificSource
coordinated care organization in Oregon (managed Medicaid), there is no
cost sharing for COVID-19 treatment.

For all other members enrolled in
Medicaid not delivered through PacificSource, please contact the plan
administrator or state Medicaid agency to learn more about cost sharing
and any applicable cost waivers.

PacificSource will pay all providers at in-network rates and benefits

NATIONAL GENERAL-

Telehealth Services and FAQ Update

At National General Benefits Solutions, we continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and will provide you with updates as they are available.

Given that COVID-19 is a communicable disease, many physician practices and health care provider systems are launching alternative telehealth-based means to consult with doctors and nurses. The following updates will ensure plan members have access to the telehealth services they need to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Telehealth services and FAQ update. All claims submitted with the place-of-service code “02” (telehealth) will be considered according to the plan benefits. Any claim with the place-of-service code “02” (telehealth) that is related to diagnostic testing for COVID-19 will have all member cost sharing waived. Plan members will not be subject to deductibles, copays, or coinsurance for telehealth virtual visits that are part of diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Plans with Teladoc®. If a Plan includes Teladoc for members and has a consultation fee, any applicable Teladoc consultation fees will be waived for the member. Plan members will not have to pay a consultation fee for Teladoc services. The consultation fee will be submitted as a fee to the Plan (payable from the claims account). The waiver of the Teladoc member cost sharing is in effect through the end of June 2020. Today, we sent this updated information and updated FAQ to all active groups.


TRUSTMARK-

IMPORTANT UPDATE!

As the situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, we have been proactive in announcing benefit changes being made to self-funded group major medical benefit plan designs (Trustmark HealthyChoicesSM, Ttustsmark HealthyEdgeSM and Trustmark Healthy Incentives plan designs) administered by Star Marketing & Administration, Inc.

New on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, a new federal law was enacted, requiring coverage of testing for the coronavirus without any cost sharing, prior authorization or other medical management requirements.

This benefit change was announced in a notification you should have received by March 18,2020 and is valid through June 30, 2020.

PRINCIPAL-

Nearly every business has felt the impacts of COVID-19 and its effect on markets and the economy has created significant uncertainty for people and businesses around the world. Principal® is prepared to meet our long-term promises to over 33 million customers around the world—and across several lines of business, we’re taking measures in the near term to help our clients. 1

To specifically help businesses and individuals in retirement plans with our services now, we are taking important steps to help navigate this difficult and unprecedented time, including: For retirement plan sponsors: If we drafted and maintain their plan document, we’ll waive fees for amendments related to the CARES Act if the intent to amend is received by Sept. 30, 2020.2 And fees will be waived for changes to employer contributions or adding participant loans through Sept. 30, 2020. Fees for notices as a result of legislative updates due to the CARES Act and the above changes will not be charged. For retirement plan participants: We’re waiving participant-paid distribution and loan origination fees for taking tax-favored withdrawals, hardship withdrawals and loans through Sept. 30, 2020. We’ve also been expanding our educational efforts for both plan sponsors and participants with direct email, webinars, articles, and more.   As a leader in the retirement service industry, we’ll continue to support our customers through our presence in the nation’s capital providing input to strengthen our retirement system, by providing education on our mobile app and website, and these direct measures to ease the stress now.
**Due to the current pandemic here and around the world, it has been decided that Principal is going to rate pass our May, June, July and august renewals that are under 500 employees.

If you have questions, please reach out to your Principal representative.
 

NEW CORONAVIRUS RELIEF LAW

As part of the FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, two laws were enacted that provide workers with paid leave for reasons related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. One of the new leave provisions, the “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act”, allows 12 weeks of partially compensated FMLA leave to care for a child whose school or child care facility has been closed due to COVID-19. The leave applies only to workers who have been employed by their current employer for 30 days.

The other new law providing employee leave, the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act”, required employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees in specified circumstances, including:

  • A quarantine or isolation order for the employee or someone the employee is caring for, or medical advice to self-quarantine;
  • When the employee has symptoms of COVID-19; or
  • When the employee’s child’s school or child care facility is closed.

Employers with 500 employees or more are exempt from the laws, and employers may exclude employees who are health care providers and emergency responders. The legislation also allows for future regulations exempting businesses with fewer than 50 employees from providing leave for child care reasons if the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business. The leave benefits take effect on April1, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2020.

Understanding the coronavirus relief package and stimulus checks

By Kimberly FossApril 06, 2020, 10:08 a.m. EDT

What does the just-enacted largest relief package in history mean for your employees?

As the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic shutters business and slows economic activity, many Americans are counting on benefits from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Among other assistance, this act includes a direct payment to most taxpayers and their families.

Here’s what you need to know about their stimulus checks — how much you’ll receive in and how to make sure you get it.Mental health in the workplace impact studyMental health in the workplace impact studySPONSOR CONTENT FROM

1. Who gets a check?

About 94% of American taxpayers who meet the following criteria are eligible to receive a stimulus check from the federal government, according to the latest information. These are the criteria:

  • Is a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Has a work-eligible Social Security number
  • Is not a dependent, or eligible to be a dependent, on any other taxpayer

2. How much will the checks be?

Eligible individuals will receive checks in the amount of $1,200 or less, depending on adjusted gross income as reported on tax returns for either 2018 or 2019.

Married filing joint returns will be eligible to receive $1,200 each, for a total of $2,400.

Families with children age 17 or younger will receive $500 for each child.

  • Single-filers with AGI of $75,000 or less will receive $1,200.
  • Married taxpayers filing jointly with AGI of $150,000 or less will both receive $1,200.
  • Single-filers who are head of households with AGI of $112,500 or less will receive $1,200.
  • The amount of the check will decrease by $5 for every $100 by which AGI exceeds the threshold for a taxpayers’ tax filing status.

Remember, for 2020 returns don’t need to be filed until July 15. (Here’s an online calculator, courtesy of The Washington Post, on which to estimate the size of their stimulus check.)

3. What must individuals do to receive the check?

As long as you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, probably nothing. The IRS will send the payments via direct deposit or paper check if they are not set up on direct deposit (the checks will be mailed to the address shown on the tax return).

4. When will the checks arrive?

The act stipulates that the IRS must process the checks as fast as possible. I expect they will probably start going out in about three weeks.

5. What should they do with the money?

These direct payments are intended to provide direct assistance to American taxpayers who have lost wages, jobs or opportunities because of COVID-19. Priorities for the best ways for clients to use their stimulus checks — each situation, of course, being unique — include:

  • Paying for necessities; Making minimum payments on credit cards or other debt
  • Paying off high-interest debt if possible
  • Starting or adding to an emergency fund
  • Saving for retirement
  • Helping others in need

6. What about business owners?

More information is becoming available about assistance for small businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a helpful guide for business owners who wish to apply for the payroll protection plan and economic injury disaster loans.

GREATER GALLATIN UNITED WAY SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY

We are grateful for your generosity.
During difficult times focusing on gratitude is one way to create a heightened sense of well-being.  Since launching the SW Montana COVID-19 Response Fund along with Bozeman Area Community Foundation (BACF), we have witnessed great acts of generosity in the form of grants from foundations, a wide range of individual gifts, and businesses finding creative ways to generate donations to the fund. We are grateful.

We have met the first $100,000 challenge set by AMB West Philanthropies and are now working to meet a new $50,000 challenge.  This challenge was made through donations from the Morgridge Family Foundation, the Mysun Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.  When we meet this match, we will have raised $300,000 for our communities.

We launched the fund 2-1/2 weeks ago and during that time, we worked with BACF to assemble a Donation Steering Group (DSG) to review requests and distribute funds. We also developed an application process for organizations to apply for funds. The DSG is meeting weekly and the application is live.     
If you need resources for yourself, please call 211.  This call center is operated 24/7 by the Bozeman Help Center and can connect you with food resources, financial assistance, help for seniors, mental health resources and more.  

If you have questions about COVID-19, keeping yourself and others safe, various government directives, etc. call the County Health Department’s Call Center at 406.548.0123 or callcenter@readygallatin.gov.

Gallatin County has been hit hard by this virus, recording the largest number of cases in the state.  Our neighbors in Park, Madison, and Meagher counties are feeling the effects too as many are out of work, feeling isolated or in some cases ill.  We can come together and help through this Fund.

We are grateful that you choose to Live United.



   








COVID-19 RELIEF AND GUIDANCE

On April 28, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) announced compliance guidance and further relief for employee benefit plans, qualified beneficiaries, and other plan members impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Under new guidance jointly released by the DOL and the IRS, the time periods in which participants can submit claims for coverage, elect and pay for COBRA continuation coverage, enroll in group health plan coverage, and file appeals for adverse benefit determinations are extended. The EBSA also provided guidance allowing additional time in which a group health plan sponsor or plan administrator can provide certain notices, disclosures, or other documents.
Specifically, the guidance provides that the “Outbreak Period” (defined as the period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending 60 days after the date on which the federal government declares the COVID-19 national emergency has ended, which has yet to be determined) will be disregarded with respect to certain plan deadlines.
While there has yet to be any end date to the national emergency period announced, it uses–for purposes of illustration–an assumed national emergency period of March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020, with Outbreak Period ending June 29, 2020.
This extension relief provides additional time for impacted participants and beneficiaries when calculating:
* The date by which members may file claims for benefits under the plan’s generally applicable claims procedures (essentially extending the run-out period for reimbursement by health plans, healthcare flex plans (FSA’s) or HRA’s until the end of the COVID-19 outbreak)
* The 60 day election period for electing COBRA coverage
* The date by which COBRA permium payments must be made
* The 30 day period to exercise special enrollment rights under HIPPA (or the 60 day period, in the case of the special enrollment rights added by the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009) for major medical plans and other non-excepted benefits. (Adding a spouse though marriage or a child through birth or adoption)
* The date by which an individual must notify the plan of a qualifying event or a Social Security disability determination
* The date by which claimants may file an appeal of adverse benefit determinations or request external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or a final internal adverse benefit determination.










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