Many events are being cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns
16 March 2020Accounting & tax analysis

Free COVID-19 testing will not impact high deductible health plans: Alera Group

Participants in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) will maintain eligibility to health savings accounts (HSA) even if testing or treatment for coronavirus is provided before their deductible is met.

This is the advice from Danielle Capilla, director of compliance, employee benefits, at Alera Group.

It follows formal guidance from the Internal Revenue Service confirming the status of HDHPs, after a number of US states, including New York, California and Vermont, ordered insurance companies not to charge state residents who are tested for COVID-19.

The state of Washington is also prohibiting copays or deductibles for COVID-19 testing, requiring insurers to allow early refills on prescriptions, and prohibiting insurers from requiring prior authorisation for treatment or testing of COVID-19, said Capilla. More states are expected to follow suit, she added.

Meanwhile, some carriers have also waived co-pays for diagnostic testing relating to COVID-19, and are offering zero copay telemedicine visits to limit exposure in physician offices and clinics.

These copay waivers and free telemedicine visits had raised questions for employers who sponsored HDHPs with accompanying health savings accounts, or HSAs, said Capilla.

“Generally, being covered by an HDHP requires that a covered individual or family meet a specified minimum deductible before the HDHP begins providing benefits,” Capilla explained. However, she noted an exception exists for preventive care, providing that an HDHP may provide preventive care benefits without regard to whether the minimum deductible has been met.