Just Trying to Help: Sample Employee Communication on CARES Act

Employers that have modified group benefits due to either mandate or choice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic may have formal plan notification requirements to meet such as issuing a Summary Material Modification or revised Summary of Benefits and Coverage. But who wants to wait for a formal plan notification to be drafted to inform employees of changes intended to provide immediate relief? Here’s a sample communication employers can leverage to communicate with employees about the changes allowed in the CARES Act. Note that this communication is not a substitute for the more formal plan document notices; you’ll still need to issue those.


Important Enhancements to Your Benefits Coverage!

On March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This law includes a number of important provisions that impact your company-provided health and retirement benefits coverage effective immediately.

Health Benefits:

  1. [OPTIONAL] Telehealth: You and your family can now use all telehealth services for any reason at NO cost to you – even if you are enrolled in our [HSA-eligible high deductible health plan], even if you have not satisfied your deductible. <<insert link to Telehealth provider>>
  2. [OPTIONAL] Over-the-counter medications: You can use your [HSA, FSA or HRA] dollars to purchase over-the-counter drugs without a prescription, and menstrual care products are now considered an eligible expense under all tax-advantaged accounts. These expenses must have been incurred on or after January 1, 2020.
  3. COVID-19 testing and preventive services: Our plans now cover an expanded list of COVID-19 tests and related services, again, at NO cost to you. <<insert link to list of covered tests and services>>

[OPTIONAL] Retirement Benefits:

  1. Special hardship withdrawal: You can use up to $100,000 of retirement funds from the [insert plan name] through December 31, 2020 without incurring the 10% early distribution penalty, as long as the distribution is due to the following: 
    • You, your spouse, or other tax dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19 (and also SARS-CoV2) using a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) AND
    • Due to coronavirus, you experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, or having work hours reduced, or being unable to work due to lack of child care.
  2. Increased loan flexibility: The maximum loan amount you can take from the [insert plan name] is increasing to $100,000. In addition, any outstanding loans scheduled to begin repayment before December 31, 2020 will be delayed for one year and the payment schedule adjusted to reflect the delayed due date.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local HR representative.


Douglas Fields
by Douglas Fields

Communications Consultant

Register for Mercer US health news to receive weekly e-mail updates.