Coronavirus-Related Benefits Updates
Below are official updates from the Benefits Office related to certain NYU New York benefits due to COVID-19. Plan and program changes are emerging and subject to change. You may not be eligible for all benefits below; please consult your Benefits Guide or NYU PeopleLink if you have questions regarding your benefits or eligibility.
Jump to: COVID-19 Vaccine | Benefit Plan Deadline Extensions | UHC Medical Plan Co-Pays and At-Home Test Coverage* | Aetna International | HealthEquity WageWorks | FSA and HSA* | Vision Service Plan | Optum, UHC, MetLife, and Tri-State Support | TIAA | Bright Horizons
* Most recent updates as of January 13-14, 2022
Posted December 17, 2020. Updated January 12, 2021. Updated January 20, 2021 and February 12, 2021 with CVS Caremark resources. Updated May 3, 2021.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. These vaccines were developed to protect you from COVID-19. Several trials from multiple companies are continuing with promising results. It is also helpful to know that the FDA has a review process for safety and effectiveness that it completes before it will authorize vaccines for emergency use by the general public. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is your best resource for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines. Additional information:
- UnitedHealthcare (UHC): FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are covered by UHC at $0 cost-share (copayments, deductibles and co-insurance) during the national public health emergency period. What to know about COVID-19 vaccines.
- CVS Caremark: COVID-19 resource website, vaccine support and information (PDF)
Posted June 3, 2020. Updated October 19, 2021.
On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance that extends numerous deadlines that apply to group health plans and participants in those plans (“Extension Guidance”). Highlights of the Extension Guidance:
All benefit plan deadlines that are identified in the Extension Guidance are effectively tolled during the “Outbreak Period” defined in the guidance. The Outbreak Period starts March 1, 2020. On October 15, 2021, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has extended the nationwide public health emergency due to COVID-19 for an additional 90 days, effective from October 18, 2021 through January 15, 2022. The deadline extensions vary based on the actions taken. Benefit Plan deadlines for the following plan actions are impacted by the Extension Guidance:
Special Enrollment Rights
Employees have until 30 days, but no more than one year from the date of the qualifying event, following the end of the Outbreak Period to request special enrollment in the NYU group health plan for themselves or their eligible dependents if:
- Employee or the employee’s dependent loses eligibility under another group health plan or health insurance coverage (including Medicaid or CHIP)
- Employee or the employee’s dependent was covered under COBRA and the COBRA period is exhausted, or
- Employee obtains a dependent through marriage/domestic partnership, birth, adoption or placement for adoption
You will receive information from the Plan’s COBRA administrator or its health plan or disability plan administrator, as applicable, about deadline extensions for the following events:
- Electing COBRA coverage.
- Making COBRA payments.
- Notifying the plan of a COBRA-qualifying event or a determination of Social Security disability for COBRA purposes.
- The American Rescue Plan Act provides for a federal subsidy of 100% of the COBRA continuation coverage premiums for the period of April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 for qualified beneficiaries whose COBRA qualifying event was involuntary termination of employment or reduction of hours between October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2021. These individuals are referred to as Assistance Eligible Individuals (AEIs).
- The act provides a 60-day election period for individuals that experienced an involuntary termination of employment or reduction of hours prior to the start of the subsidy period but did not elect COBRA during their initial 60-day election period, as well as those who elected coverage but then subsequently lost that coverage prior to the start of the subsidy period (e.g., due to non-payment of premiums).
- If these AEIs elect COBRA continuation coverage during the second 60-day period, their subsidy and coverage will begin as of April 1, 2021.
- The maximum COBRA eligibility period is measured from the original qualifying event date (i.e., the date of the involuntary termination of employment or reduction of hours).
- If an AEI becomes eligible for other group health coverage or Medicare or reaches the end of her/his maximum COBRA coverage period, her/his entitlement to the subsidy ends.
- This includes retiree coverage. If the AEI is eligible for NYU retiree benefits, they are not eligible for the subsidy.
- Filing a benefit claim or an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan’s claims and appeals procedures
- Requesting an external review of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination under a medical plan
- Filing information to perfect a request for external review
Coverage for At-Home COVID-19 Tests:
As you may know, federal guidance was recently announced requiring employer-sponsored health plans, such as NYU’s, to cover FDA-approved, at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at no cost for those individuals enrolled in their health plans. Employees and their dependents covered by an NYU medical plan can be reimbursed for the cost of up to eight at-home over-the-counter tests without a prescription in a 30-day period, purchased on or after January 15, 2022.
Our partners at UnitedHealthcare and CVS Caremark will be providing information in the coming days as to the process for submitting claims for purchased tests. In the meantime, if you purchase tests on or after January 15, 2022, please keep your receipt and UPC (or barcode) from the test kit box. We will provide additional information on how you can submit your claims for reimbursement as soon as possible. Please note that test kits are often sold in packs with multiple tests, and each test, not kit, will count towards the eight-test limit.
COVID-19 tests ordered or administered by a physician, including PCR and rapid-antigen tests not administered at home, continue to be covered under standard plan benefits, and are not subject to the maximum benefit of eight tests per member per month. Members should continue to use their medical ID card and have providers submit claims as usual for these tests.
Co-Pays for COVID-19 Testing Waived: If you meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for testing and you have a prescription from a doctor, your co-pay for the cost of testing will be waived until the end of the national health emergency period. The IRS has issued relief that allows High Deductible Health Plans to cover COVID-19 testing without member cost sharing, without jeopardizing eligibility for a Health Savings Account. Therefore, this cost share waiver applies to all NYU UHC medical plans.
Co-Pays for COVID-19 Serological Antibody Testing Waived: If you have a prescription from a physician for an FDA-approved antibody test, your cost share for the testing will be waived until the end of the national health emergency period.
Posted March 24, 2020 for faculty and employees on international assignment with Aetna International coverage. Added summary with updated FAQs on December 21, 2020.
View Aetna International's summary of COVID-19 resources and FAQs (PDF).
Outside of the U.S., members have access to Aetna International's Employee Assistance Program by calling the number on the back of your member ID card. You can also connect via iConnectYou (PDF), which provides access to clinical counselors at any time for personalized, telephonic counseling support for stress and anxiety. Download the app, enter your country code, and you will be able to connect via toll-free local phone numbers, video, online chat, or SMS. Review the member guide (PDF) to learn your country code information.
Aetna International is providing free access to myStrength, our highly interactive, personalized tool that helps address depression, anxiety, stress, and more:
- Personalized daily activities to support your mental health
- Inspiration and encouragement from our community of users
- Progress check-ins and wellness assessments to see how you’re doing
- Advice from leading clinicians to help improve your emotional health
Transit Pass Elections: The various transit agencies HealthEquity WageWorks partners with have differing refund policies and requirements which they can help you navigate or you may contact your transit agency directly. Plan participants are advised to modify future orders accordingly on http://www.wageworks.com while working remotely so that any recurring orders are cancelled as needed. If you have any questions, please contact member services at 866-735-8195.
Reminder: The fourth of each month is the deadline to make changes for the following benefit month.
Emailed and posted on April 20, 2020 to Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA) participants. Updated January 13, 2022.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently signed into law provides for the expansion of eligible expenses for reimbursement from FSAs and HSAs to include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines without a doctor’s prescription purchased on or after January 1, 2020
- Menstrual care products purchased on or after January 1, 2020
Debit Card Purchases
- WageWorks FSA: Menstrual care items will be programed in the WageWorks system for debit card purchases by May 15, 2020. In the interim, plan participants may need to submit manual claims with receipts to HealthEquity WageWorks for reimbursement.
- Optum HSA: You may use your HSA debit card as you normally would for the purchase of OTC or menstrual products as no claim reimbursement process is required. Please retain copies of your receipts for tax purposes.
Dependent Care FSA’s are ordinarily subject to an IRS “use-it-or-lose-it” rule that requires unused DCFSA balances at the end of a plan year to be forfeited. As previously announced, the Consolidated Appropriations Act allows for all unused Dependent Care FSA funds from plan years 2020 and 2021 to automatically carry over to the following plan year.
Posted May 4, 2020 for participants in the Vision Service Plan (VSP). Updated July 8, 2021 with deadline extension and updated flyer.
Effective through September 30, 2021, VSP has expanded access (PDF) to medical eye care services for members and their covered dependents, who have access to supplemental medical eye care for the detection, treatment, and management of ocular and visual conditions including conjunctivitis, eye trauma, or sudden changes in vision.
Posted March 18, 2020 for eligible faculty and employees. Updated March 25, 2020 with April webinars. Updated March 26, 2020 with new UnitedHealthcare (UHC) mental health support for all faculty and employees. Updated June 15, 2020 with new MetLife emotional support for U.S. faculty and employees. Updated August 17, 2020 with additional support in the tri-state area. Updated October 8, 2020 with Optum contact information and resources.
Optum, the free, confidential, professional link to guidance and mental health counseling, is available and at your service as NYU's employee assistance program benefit. Call 888-980-8740 to consult with a board-certified counselor at any time. In addition, dedicated Coronavirus resources provided by Optum are available.
The New York State Office of Mental Health is providing a first-in-the-nation program to help New Yorkers affected by the pandemic. The program, Coping Circles, consists of free, six-week support group sessions, facilitated by volunteer licensed mental health professionals, that are available to all New Yorkers age 18 and older.
Posted March 18, 2020 for eligible faculty and employees. Resources flyers added June 16, 2020.
Although all in-person sessions of the one-on-one financial planning consultations with the financial experts of TIAA are cancelled, personalized consultations by phone or virtually continue at this time. Arrange a telephone meeting as you normally would schedule an in-person meeting by visiting https://tiaa.org/schedulenow; the confirmed meeting will then be converted to a phone meeting. Or, learn how to schedule a video conference session (PDF). Additional resources provided by TIAA include:
Posted March 18, 2020 for eligible full-time faculty, administrators, and professional research staff. Updated May 3, 2021.
Bright Horizons is continuing to provide in-home back-up care network of providers and arrange quality care options within Bright Horizons centers as well as dedicated back-up care centers. Schedule back-up care through Bright Horizons (username: NYU / password: Benefits4You). Visit brighthorizons.com/covid19 for additional resources.