Recently Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (“2023 CAA”). Among other things, the 2023 CAA extends, for a second time, the telehealth relief provided under the CARES Act. The CARES Act permitted high deductible health plans (“HDHP”) to provide first-dollar telehealth services or other remote care services. This allowed individuals covered under a HDHP that waived the deductible for telehealth services or other remote care to maintain HSA eligibility. Under the CARES Act, this relief was available for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021, meaning the relief expired for calendar year plans at the end of 2021. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 extended the telehealth relief for the months of April 2022 through December 2022.
Under the 2023 CCA, HDHPs may, but are not required to, continue to provide first-dollar telehealth and other remote services for plan years beginning after December 31, 2022 and before January 1, 2025, without running afoul of the HSA eligibility rules (“Extended Telehealth Relief”). In other words, this relief is available for the 2023 and 2024 plan years if the plan has a calendar plan year. However, if a plan has a non-calendar plan year, the Extended Telehealth Relief will not be available from January 1, 2023 until the first day of the plan year which begins in 2023 (the “Gap Period”). If the plan does not impose the minimum deductible for telehealth or other remote services during the Gap Period, the plan may not be a HDHP during the Gap Period, meaning that participants would be ineligible for HSA contributions during that period.
As mentioned above, the Extended Telehealth Relief is optional. If a plan sponsor decides to implement the Extended Telehealth Relief, it should take the following steps:
- If the HDPH is fully insured, the plan sponsor should contact its HDHP carrier to ascertain whether the carrier’s plans will adopt the Extended Telehealth Relief. If the Extended Telehealth Relief is adopted, the plan sponsor should also ensure that the changes are made to its plan documents and are communicated to HDHP participants.
- If the HDHP is self-insured, the plan sponsor should consult with its stop-loss carrier and third party administrator regarding the Telehealth Relief Extension. It should also ensure that the changes are made in its plan documents and that HDHP participants are notified of such changes.