On March 15, 2022, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (“2022 CAA”) was signed into law. Among other things, the 2022 CAA temporarily restores the telehealth relief provided under the CARES Act. The CARES Act permitted high deductible health plans (“HDHP”) to provide telehealth services or other remote care services without applying a deductible. This allowed individuals covered under a HDHP that waived the deductible for telehealth services or other remote care to maintain HSA eligibility. Under the CARES Act, this relief was available for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021, meaning it expired for calendar year plans at the end of 2021.
Under the 2022 CCA, HDHPs may, but are not required to, provide telehealth and other remote services without applying a deductible for the months of April 2022 through December 2022 without running afoul of the HSA eligibility rules (“Extended Telehealth Relief”). This means, however, that if a plan year started between January 1, 2022 and March 31, 2022 (the “Gap Period”), such as a calendar year plan, the Extended Telehealth Relief was not available for the plan for the Gap Period. If the plan did not impose the minimum deductible for telehealth or other remote services during the Gap Period, the plan may not be a HDHP during the Gap Period, meaning that participants would be ineligible for HSA contributions during that period.
As mentioned above, the Extended Telehealth Relief is optional. If a plan sponsor decides to implement the Extended Telehealth Relief, it should take the following steps:
- If the HDPH is fully insured, the plan sponsor should contact its HDHP carrier to ascertain whether the carrier’s plans will adopt the Extended Telehealth Relief from April 2022 to December 2022. If the Extended Telehealth Relief is adopted, the plan sponsor should also ensure that the changes are made to its plan documents and are communicated to HDHP participants.
- If the HDHP is self-insured, the plan sponsor should consult with its stop-loss carrier and third party administrator regarding the telehealth relief extension. It should also ensure that the changes are made in its plan documents and that HDHP participants are notified of such changes.
Additionally, if a plan sponsor of a calendar year HDHP (or other plan year beginning before April 1) did not impose the minimum deductible for telehealth or other remote services during the Gap Period, it should contact experienced benefits counsel to determine the appropriate course of action.