As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, we want to assure you that we at Clarity Benefit Solutions are closely monitoring developments.
The health of our customers and our employees is of utmost importance to us. Because of this, we are taking the steps necessary to safeguard our business operations according to our Business Continuity plan. We have plans, processes and teams in place to ensure our service works seamlessly, so you can focus on your critical business goals. Please continue to check back here for updates from Clarity as this situation evolves.
UPDATE REGARDING THE CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF 2021
Clarity continues to work through the details of the optional provisions included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. As we have communicated, this Act includes several optional provisions for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Accounts (LPFSA) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCAs).
In order to provide you an easy way to deliver this additional relief to your employees, we are actively developing a solution that will allow you to approve these provisions or make modifications. This solution will be available by the end of January. This will allow ample time to apply these optional provisions to your Clarity plans. If you have any questions, please contact your designated Client Relationship Manager or our Employer Services Team at 888-423-6359.
FSA/LPFSSA/DCA RELIEF PROVIDED IN CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF 2021
On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law. As we communicated last week, this Act includes several optional provisions for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Accounts (LPFSA) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCAs).
This year, due to the pandemic, many Americans choose to delay standard medical and dental visits and voluntary procedures due to the risk of COVID. Due to this, many individuals have large unspent balances in their FSA, LPFSA and DCA accounts. The carryover or grace period provisions provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 are meant to additional relief to these individuals.
In order to provide you an easy way to provide this additional relief to your employees, we are actively developing a solution to allow you to opt into the changes. If you do not currently offer carryover or grace period options, we highly encourage you to take advantage of these new provisions that could help provide much-needed relief to your employees during this time.
National Public Health Emergency Extended
On July 23, 2020, the Secretary of Health and Human Services declared the Public Health Emergency, scheduled to end on July 25, 2020, will once again be extended for an additional 90 days and as a result, numerous temporary benefit plan changes remain in effect. The Emergency Period is now set to expire October 23, 2020 (unless further extended or shortened by HHS). Read More
Listen to our recent webinar
Our webinar, "Explaining the Recent COBRA, FSA and HRA Rules Changes," gives an in-depth review of the recent rules changes issued by the Department of Labor and the Department of Treasury providing temporary extensions of certain Group Health Plans, COBRA and FSA/HRA deadlines. Listen to the Webinar. Download PDF.
INTRODUCING THE CLARITY CARE ACCOUNT - DISASTER RELIEF FOR COVID-19
At Clarity Benefit Solutions, we know the COVID-19 pandemic is putting tremendous pressure on people, families, businesses, and the economy at large. And, we know employers are looking for ways to help their employees through this crisis – via paid time off, financial assistance or other types of programs. That is why we are introducing the Clarity Care Account. With this account, employers can now provide financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic to their employees under Section-139 of the IRS code. And, we have several options to choose from. Learn More.
OTC PRODUCTS NOW FSA AND HSA ELIGIBLE
Our partners at FSA Store and HSA Store have updated their sites to accept your Clarity FSA and HSA cards for the newly added Over-the-Counter (OTC) products. This means it is now possible for you to search for eligible OTC products and purchase these products online using your Clarity FSA or HSA. To learn more simply visit the FSA OTC Page or the HSA OTC Page.
Make Sure You’re Prepared to Use Your Benefits
As a technology centric company, we do not foresee any long-term impacts to our service. However, when we transition a portion of our operations to a remote status, there is chance we could see slight delays in our service response times. As a precaution we recommend doing what we are doing – make sure your Clarity benefits tools are set-up to help you closely monitor and take care of your health:
- Be prepared to offer online enrollment for remote employees by using our online Benefits Administration platform
- Encourage your employees to download and set-up the Clarity Mobile App
- Make sure their Clarity debit card is activated and ready to use Use the Clarity debit card to pay for any related medical expenses with your FSA, HSA or HRA
- Encourage your employees to consider increasing their HSA participation
- Remind them to use the app to submit claims electronically
- Let them know they can go to our online portal and opt-in for direct deposit to ensure timely reimbursement of claims
Important and helpful updates to Your Clarity Plans:
Ability to Change Elections for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCA)
The COVID situation provides several possible reasons to allow an election change to a Clarity DCA. For example, the IRS allows an election change for:
- Reductions in hours
- Change in employment status
- FMLA leave
- Substantial change in employer benefits/cost
- Change of cost from the provider
- Change of provider resulting in change of cost
As an example, employees may increase their DCA election if their child’s school is closed due to the COVID-19, and they are experiencing an increase in daycare expenses because they need to continue working. Or, they may decrease their election if they are working remotely and no longer need daycare.
In the unfortunate event that an employee is laid off or terminated and their DCA is terminated, they can still submit claims for expenses through the end of the plan year and have until the claim’s submission deadline to submit them. They can get reimbursed only for the amount they have paid in.
For information on how to initiate a change in a DCA election, please contact your Clarity Customer Relationship Manager.
Ability to Change Elections for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
The COVID situation provides several possible reasons to allow an election change to your Clarity FSA. For example, the IRS allows an election change for:
- Reductions in hours that causes loss in coverage
- Change in employment status
- FMLA leave
- Substantial change in employer benefits/cost
Please note: election changes cannot be made solely due to an increase in medical expenses because of COVID-19.
Employees can still submit claims for expenses up to the termination date of the FSA, and they have until the claim’s submission deadline set by their employer to submit them.
For information on how to initiate a change in a FSA election, please contact your Clarity Customer Relationship Manager.
Health Savings Account (HSA) Updates and Options
HSA elections may be updated at any time, for any reason. Employees can also contribute directly to their HSA if a payroll deduction is not an option. This will be an above the line tax deduction when they file their 2020 taxes.
- HSA Ready for Life Funding Acceleration: We offer a Ready for Life funding acceleration that can help fill an employee's financial gap with an instant, interest-free payroll advance. Whatever advance amount is needed (set by you, the employer) is automatically deducted from the employee’s future paychecks in manageable amounts. These repayments are tax-free. For information on how to set up a Ready for Life Funding Acceleration, please contact your Clarity Customer Relationship Manager.
- Income Tax Filing Extension: According to Notice 2020-17, any person with a federal income tax payment or a federal income tax return due April 15, 2020 is eligible for relief on their federal income tax return payment. For an affected taxpayer, the due date for filing federal income tax returns and making federal income tax payments due April 15, 2020 has been automatically postponed to July 15, 2020. This relief grants all HSA account holders the option to make contributions to their 2019 HSA at any time up until the new deadline of July 15, 2020.
Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Updates
If an employee is laid off or terminated and their HRA is terminated, they can still submit claims for expenses up to the termination date of the HRA, and they have until the claim’s submission deadline (set by the employer) to submit them. If they go on COBRA for insurance, their HRA will continue with it.
Commuter Election Changes
According to IRS guidelines, employees can make changes to their SmartRide elections at any time. The only time this would not apply is if the employer has separate rules regarding transit/commuter elections.
Our People and Remote Work
Prior to the COIVD-19 outbreak, close to half of Clarity’s employees worked remote. As of March 20, nearly 100% of our workforce moved to a remote status. Only essential employees are going to our office, and only to perform essential tasks.
Service and Operations
Because customer service is at the core of what we do at Clarity, we are committed to keeping our service up and running for our customers across the country. We have taken steps to ensure we are able to minimize service interruptions as our staff continues to support you remotely. To ensure our plan participants can get quick responses to their questions, we have cross-trained our service teams and will activate them as call center agents as needed.
Our cloud-based, self-service tools are designed with a high-degree of redundancy. This approach ensures that these tools will remain available to our customers and our employees during times of unexpected events.
FSA Store Virus Preparedness
FSA Store has a new Virus Preparedness category to ensure families can find the most popular FSA-eligible items purchased during flu season. They are pledging to provide fair price protections for all items on their Virus Preparedness Page, and are making every effort to keep a steady supply of these items available. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each product will be donated to CDC Foundation to support their response in combating COVID-19.