CARES Act Expands Telehealth Coverage in HDHPs

Included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) are several provisions dealing with the expansion of telehealth services coverage, including for individuals currently enrolled in high deductible health plans (HDHPs):

Section 3701

Participants in HDHPs — including those with HSAs — are no longer required to meet their deductibles before gaining access to telehealth services.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck so early in the year, most HDHP participants had not yet met their deductible responsibilities.  However, the federal government has recognized the importance of keeping the patient load at health care facilities as low as possible by removing this obstacle to acquire telehealth services without having to first satisfy a high deductible. Individuals enrolled in a HDHP will still be able to make and receive contributions to an HSA if their plan offers no-cost telehealth services before a deductible is satisfied.

This provision is effective for 2020 and 2021 calendar year plans; it sunsets at the end of December 2021 unless it is extended or made permanent by Congress.

Section 3703

This provision allows health care providers to provide telehealth services to new patients covered by Medicare.  Under prior federal legislation, practitioners were only able to provide telehealth services to Medicare patients if they had a pre-existing relationship with the patient over the past three years.

Section 3704

To ensure that telehealth services are available to areas that typically lack sufficient medical resources, this section of the CARES Act allows federal qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics (RHCs) to be designated as “distant sites” (where a health care provider is located) for telehealth consultations.

Section 3705

Under this provision, doctors are now able to provide home dialysis evaluations via telehealth. Prior to implementation of the CARES Act, physicians had to evaluate new home dialysis patients in person every month for the first three months of treatment.

Section 3706

Allows hospice care recertifications to be performed via telehealth services where previously recertifications for the third benefit period and beyond required an in-person visit per Medicare hospice benefit rules.

At Hall Benefits Law, we work with employers to help them adhere to applicable reporting requirements and avoid costly penalties that can result in substantial harm to your business. Please call 678-439-6236 to discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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