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More Potential HSA Updates as the Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

Thomas Torre
Mar 25, 2020 8:00:00 AM

As you may have read in our previous coronavirus HSA blog post, on March 11, 2020, the IRS released IRS Notice 2020-15, an emergency ruling which relaxes the normal minimum deductible requirements health savings account (HSA) users typically face with their high-deductible health plan (HDHP). It appears as though many more beneficial HSA updates are soon to follow.

A Quick Recap of IRS Notice 2020-15

Under the notice, the testing for and treatment of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) may be covered pre-deductible for those with HSA-eligible HDHP coverage without violating rules or negatively impacting their HSA or HDHP status. This action helps ensure that the higher deductibles associated with HDHPs don’t get in the way of testing and care related to coronavirus for those with HSAs and HDHPs.

Since then, all major health insurers—including those that provide HDHPs—have waived any copays, coinsurance and deductibles related to COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with the CDC guidelines for everyone currently insured, as well as for Medicaid and Medicare members. So, simply put, if you have an HDHP and HSA and end up needing testing for the coronavirus, you won’t have to tap into your HSA for any of the associated costs—all testing can be covered under the umbrella of preventive services pre-deductible. And if you end up needing treatment for COVID-19, you should work with your insurance provider directly to see what coverage applies, as many insurers are also covering those costs pre-deductible.

More HSA Updates Related to COVID-19 in the Works

Along with the IRS update on testing and treatment for coronavirus, a number of other HSA-related legislative activities have also been on the docket, all in an effort to provide additional benefits to those with HDHPs and HSAs during this public health emergency.

Here’s a quick rundown of additional benefits you may soon be able to receive if you have an HDHP with an HSA.

Pre-Deductible Access to Telehealth, Telemedicine and Other Remote or Virtual Healthcare

One extremely important benefit change would allow an HDHP with an HSA to cover telehealth, telemedicine and virtual healthcare services pre-deductible as preventive care—meaning the services would be cost-free and not require using your HSA funds. This increases healthcare access for patients who may have COVID-19 while protecting other patients from potential exposure. Not to mention, it helps keep your HSA savings intact and protects your overall financial health and well-being. As presented, this change in coverage would be effective until the end of 2021.

Over-the-Counter Medicines and Products HSA-Eligible Without a Prescription

Another important shift regarding HSA eligibility would allow all nonprescription drugs and over-the-counter medications and medical products to qualify for HSA reimbursement without a prescription (currently, you’re only able to use your HSA funds for these purchases with a prescription). In short, with this update, you’d be able to use your HSA funds to purchase over-the-counter medical products—including those needed in quarantine and social distancing—all without a prescription from your healthcare provider.

Direct Primary Care Costs HSA-Eligible

If you’re not familiar with the term “direct primary care,”—or DPC for short—in a nutshell, it’s a newer healthcare model that provides patients with direct access to their primary care provider for a flat recurring (usually monthly) fee. This update would allow patients with an HSA-eligible HDHP to use their HSA funds to pay the recurring fee to their direct primary care physician practice, even for remote care, telehealth and virtual visits accessed through the DPC.

3-Month Extension for Filing Your Tax Return—and for Making 2019 Contributions to Your HSA

One important update that is set in stone relates to your 2019 tax return (and HSA contribution) deadline. Though not solely for HSAs, but directly related to them, on March 20, 2020, the IRS extended the deadline for filing individual tax returns and making tax payments for 2019 from the original deadline of April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. This is an important three-month extension for HSA accountholders, since the deadline to make any final contributions to your health savings account for the 2019 tax year matches the tax return filing deadline. What that means is that you now have until July 15 to make any HSA contributions you’d like to hit the 2019 tax year. For more information on how to make sure your HSA is ready for tax day, read our HSA blog post that covers everything from HSA contribution deadlines and details, to HSA tax forms. Please note that this applies to federal taxes. Be sure to confirm the filing date with your state agencies. 

Stay Safe, Healthy and Informed

These are trying times, and understandably so, your HSA might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. But taking a few moments to do things like read this blog post will help you keep current on important developments regarding your HSA that can help you in the event you’re impacted in any way by COVID-19.

Please be aware, aside from the IRS updates from March 11 and March 20, the other updates may change as Congress and the White House continue to negotiate. Rest assured, we’ll continue to update you whenever decisions are made.

If you find yourself working from home, temporarily off of work, self-quarantining, under a shelter-at-home order or under any other circumstance during this ever-changing outbreak, remember, all these actions are designed to have a preservation effect on your HSA balances and your overall financial health and well-being.

For more general information and resources on the coronavirus and developments related to the pandemic, visit the CDC’s website, the the World Health Organization’s coronavirus site or your specific state’s Department of Health online.

And remember, Bend is here to help. Get in touch with any questions you have on HSAs—we’re here for you. And we’ll post again with any further developments regarding the coronavirus, HDHPs and HSAs.

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