Employee benefits-related provisions of the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law by the president on March 27, 2020, to provide much-needed relief with respect to the COVID-19 crisis. The following are key health and welfare provisions:

Expansion of over the counter (OTC) treated as medical expenses

Employees with Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA): The CARES Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit individuals to obtain reimbursement from health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), for expenses incurred for over-the-counter medical products purchased without a prescription, reversing a restriction imposed by the Affordable Care Act. In addition, menstrual care products were added as an eligible expense for use with an HSA and FSA. This move puts these health products in line with other already eligible expenses. This is a permanent change.

These changes are effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020. This means participants may submit for these now eligible products they may have purchased prior to the passing of the bill, but not before January 1, 2020.

Exemption for Telehealth Services 

Employee covered under the WMHIP-HSA (HDHP): The Act provides a safe harbor for telehealth services to be covered under a high deductible health plan before the annual deductible is met, without regard to whether the telehealth services relate to COVID-19. This provision is effective upon the enactment date of March 27,2020 and lasts through plan years beginning in 2021.

COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing

Employee covered under all WMHIP-Health Plans: The CARES Act extends coronavirus testing (covered without cost-sharing and outside the deductible by fully insured and self-insured plans), as required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to any services or items provided during a medical visit that results in coronavirus testing, including an in-person or telehealth visit to a doctor’s office, an urgent care center or an emergency room. This coverage requirement remains in effect only while there is a declared public health emergency as defined under federal law.

If you have any questions, contact Debra Davis at (616) 234-4175 or at email: debradavis1@grcc.edu or Maria Belmares Herrera at (616) 234-4052 or at email: mherrerabelmares@grcc.edu.


Employees Covered under the WMHIP-BCBS Health Plans:

WMHIP-Blue Cross Blue Shield Enhanced COVID-19 Benefits  

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is taking steps to waive cost sharing for two very important benefits in the WMHIP health plans in order to assist employees as we all work to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Enhanced COVID-19 Benefits:

  • COVID-19 testing –WMHIP-BCBS is waiving cost sharing for the COVID-19 diagnostic lab testing.
  • Telehealth visits – WMHIP-BCBS is waiving cost-sharing when members use Blue Cross Online Visits or when they use telehealth medical visits with a physician in the BCBS PPO network, the visits will be 100% covered.

Virtual Visit FAQs

Blue Cross Blue Shield Online Visits 24/7 (Telehealth Visits)  

Many members didn’t realize that quality healthcare is available online 24/7 with the virtual visit. Using this virtual tool is convenient, private and secure to meet your medical needs when an appointment with your PCP isn’t possible.

24/7 Online Health Care

Online Visit FAQs

If you have any questions, contact Debra Davis at: (616) 234-4175 or debradavis1@grcc.edu or Maria Belmares Herrera at: (616) 234-4052 or at email: mherrerabelmares@grcc.edu.


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