It has been an unimaginable few weeks as our world faces historic challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. Benafica is dedicated to keeping you informed about the actions we are taking at our company and about the updates provided by your insurance companies during this uncertain time. We plan to continue working closely with our employer groups to provide as much flexibility as possible to maximize coverage for your employees.
We are committed to:
- Prioritizing you. Benafica is keeping close watch on COVID-19 developments to make sure our employee groups are best prepared and supported during the coming days and weeks. To make sure access to care is easily available, our staff is standing by to answer questions and help provide our members with seamless coverage assistance during this uncertain time. Our employee benefits team is teleworking, and able to continue to provide our regular support.
- Keeping your informed. Amid the challenges we are all facing, it is important to stay informed with the ever changing updates from our governing bodies. We strive to keep the most up to date information easily accessible to you.
We will continue to provide updates via email and on our website at our Coronavirus Resource Center. We encourage you to check regularly as announcements regarding health insurance is regularly occurring. As always, thank you for placing your trust in Benafica.
Q: If employees are not meeting the hourly requirement for eligibility or are on furlough, can they stay on the plan?
A: Employers will have the option to keep currently enrolled employees on their plans as active employees, even when hours are reduced below the average hours worked eligibility requirement or they are laid off/furloughed. If your group is temporarily reducing hours for employees, insurance carriers are providing flexibility in eligibility definition as long as premium payments continue on the same basis as they currently do.
Q: If employees are laid off, would they be eligible to stay on the plan or should they be changed to COBRA status?
A: If your group is terminating/laying off employees, COBRA applies. Individuals may obtain coverage on the Individual market, which may be subsidy-eligible based on income. At least one employee must remain on the group plan to maintain the policy. Please email clientservices@Benafica.com for anything related to COBRA administration. If you are not currently utilizing Benafica's COBRA services, and want additional COBRA support, please let us know.
Q: Can employers keep their policies active if there are no employees actively working?
A: If your group is terminating coverage (no active employees/closing business), standard contract termination provisions apply. In this case, COBRA does not apply. Individuals who are COBRA eligible may also want to shop other health insurance options. Individuals may obtain coverage on the Individual market, which may be subsidy-eligible based on income. Please call our individual and family enrollment team at 651-259-9000 for help navigating the individual market on and off exchange.
Q: Can employers change or waive their current return to work or new hire waiting period during this time?
A: Employers will be allowed to make contract changes to their rehire or waiting periods with an immediate effective date for their entire existing employee population. Some insurance carriers will require this request in writing within 30 days please contact your account manager if you wish to make adjustments.
Q: Does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) apply to my business?
A: Yes, the FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees (further regulation expected April 2020) to provide their employees with paid sick or family leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Every dollar of required paid leave (plus the cost of the employer’s health insurance premiums during leave) will be 100% covered by a dollar-for-dollar refundable tax credit available to the employer. For detailed summary on redeeming tax credits please visit the IRS website.
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