- Among the provisions of this month's $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, Congress included a revival of an exemption that allowed high-deductible health plans to cover telehealth before individuals meet their deductible.
- The provision was originally created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which sunset at the end of 2021. The provision will resume April 1 but will again sunset at the end of this year.
- The bill introduced several other telehealth provisions. It extended, for example, telehealth coverage for Medicare beneficiaries and expanded the list of practitioners able to provide virtual services.
The reinstatement is a win for HSA account holders and HSA-qualified health plans, according to Jody Dietel, senior vice president of advocacy and government affairs at HealthEquity. The CARES Act made it possible for individuals with high-deductible health plans to use telehealth options before meeting their deductible without dipping into their HSAs or paying out of pocket.
Although the change is good news for employees and employers, both parties may face confusion because the measure is temporary. "We're waiting for regulatory guidance because the reinstatement is only valid" through the year's end, Dietel said. "That could make it a bit confusing should a change in jobs or health plans occur."
Dietel said she expects guidance to arrive soon. As HR professionals await further clarification, they can check with their HSA-qualified health plans to determine whether they have updated policies in light of the law, Dietel recommended. They can also focus on communication.
"Communicate this provision liberally," she said in an email to HR Dive. "It is good for covered employees and their families and cost-effective."