Clarity COVID-19 Updates

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.

More Information Regarding COBRA Continuation of Coverage

We recently shared additional guidance regarding gap period options for the COBRA continuation coverage provided in the Department of Labor’s EBSA Disaster Relief Notice. For more details on these options please read more.

 

IRS Releases HSA Limits for 2022

On May 10, 2021, the IRS released 2022 inflation-adjusted limits for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Make sure your employer clients are aware of these new limits. Read More

 

OPTIONAL ATTESTATION SERVICES

An individual that is eligible for other group health plan coverage, eligible for Medicare, or becomes eligible while receiving the subsidiary, is not eligible for the COBRA premium assistance. Failure to notify the plan triggers a penalty to the individual. Clarity will be complying with the guidelines and notifying individuals of these eligibility requirements and rely upon the individual to properly evaluate their situation and elect COBRA and the COBRA premium subsidy accordingly. Read More

 

CLARITY ARPA WEBINAR

On Thursday, April 15, 2021 Clarity hosted a webinar on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. This act establishes a 100% COBRA premium subsidy for eligible COBRA participants. The subsidy began on April 1, 2021 and ends on September 30, 2021.

During this webinar, Darcy Hitesman, Employee Benefits law attorney, provided an in-depth overview of the ARPA and the COBRA continuation provision. A Clarity COBRA specialist also reviewed the simply smarter solution we are developing to allow you to easily approve the COBRA continuation of coverage for your eligible individuals.

View the Webinar    View the Q&A

 

Stimulus Act Raises Dependent Care FSA Limits, Adjusts Tax Credit

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed into law on March 11, raised pretax contribution limits for dependent care flexible spending accounts (DC-FSAs) for calendar year 2021. It also increased the value of the dependent care tax credit for 2021.

The new DC-FSA annual limits for pretax contributions increase to $10,500 (up from $5,000) for single taxpayers and married couples filing jointly, and to $5,250 (up from $2,500) for married individuals filing separately. The higher limits apply to the plan year beginning after Dec. 31, 2020 and before Jan. 1, 2022. 

The contribution limit for health care FSAs remained unchanged at $2,750. Read More

 

IRS Confirms HSA Contribution Due Date as May 17, 2021

Last week the IRS announced that the due date for 2020 tax returns was postponed to May 17, 2021. Today they announced in IR 2021-67 that the due date for 2020 contributions to an HSA is also May 17, 2021. 
 

IRS Treats Face Masks, Hand Sanitizers, and Sanitizing Wipes as Qualified Medical Expenses

Today, the IRS released Announcement 2021-7 that provides that amounts paid for personal protective equipment for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for use by the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or the taxpayer’s dependent(s) are treated as amounts paid for medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). As such, these amounts can be reimbursed by a health flexible spending arrangement, a health reimbursement arrangement or a health savings account. The Announcement also details when a plan amendment is required. 

Clarity will provide an update once these items are available for purchase on the FSA Store. 

 

New York Requires Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations

Governor Cuomo signed legislation on March 12, 2021, requiring all New York public and private employers to provide employees with paid leave in connection with getting COVID-19 vaccinations. This legislation took effect immediately and will be in effect through December 21, 2022. Read More

 

New Guidance on COBRA Continuation Coverage

Yesterday, March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law. This Act includes a provision for a COBRA continuation coverage premium subsidy of 100% for qualifying individuals and families during the six-month period beginning April 1, 2021, and ending September 30, 2021. Read More

 

Clarity Client COVID-19 Update

Good News! We have extended the deadline for you to APPROVE, MODIFY or DENY the CAA provisions that impact your Clarity plans. To access the Consolidated Appropriations Act Questionnaire, please click on the button below (you can also access this questionnaire in the Manage tab of the Clarity Portal). To deny these provisions, please choose MODIFY on the first page of the form.

 

Clarity Broker COVID-19 Update

Good News! We’ve made it easy for your clients to review and approve the optional provisions provided in The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA). 

As we enter 2021, many employees have been forced to put off elective procedures and regularly scheduled medical and dental check-ups due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means many employees are at risk of losing their plan funds because they did not incur the medical or dependent care expenses that they anticipated at the beginning of 2020. Luckily the CAA provides several optional provisions that enable you to allow your employees to maintain and spend-down these balances.

 

Clarity Client COVID-19 Update

Good News! We’ve made it easy for your company to review and approve the optional provisions provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA). 

As we enter 2021, many employees have been forced to put off elective procedures and regularly scheduled medical and dental check-ups due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means many employees are at risk of losing their plan funds because they did not incur the medical or dependent care expenses that they anticipated at the beginning of 2020. Luckily the CAA provides several optional provisions that enable you to allow your employees to maintain and spend-down these balances. 

 

Clarity Client and Broker COVID-19 Update

As we have communicated over the last several weeks, we have been hard at work developing an online solution that allows you to implement the optional provisions provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R. 133, P.L. 116-260) (CAA).

 

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 COVID-19 outbreak, close to half of Clarity’s employees worked remotely. 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.

 

Recent Communications:

August 4 EBSA Disaster Relief Notice

May 24 IRS 2022 HSA Limits

May 7 Optional Attestation Services

April 15 Clarity ARPA Webinar and Q&As

March 30 Stimulus Act Raises Dependent Care FSA Limits

March 30 IRS Confirms HSA Contribution Due Date

March 26 New IRS Qualified Medical Expenses

March 19 Paid Leave for Covid-19 Vaccinations

March 12 COBRA Continuation Coverage

March 1 Clarity Client COVID-19 Update

February 8 Clarity Broker COVID-19 Update

February 8 Clarity Client COVID-19 Update

February 1 Clarity Client and Broker COVID-19 Update

January 7 Update Regarding the Consolidated Appropriations Act

December 30 New FSA/LPFSA/DCA Provisions from Consolidated Appropriations Act 

December 30 Implementing FSA/LPFSA/DCA Relief to Plans Ending 12/31

December 23 Monitoring Impacts of Consolidated Appropriations Act 

June 5 Client Plan Change Update

June 5 Broker Plan Change Update

May 18 Broker Webinar Invitation

May 18 Client Webinar Invitation

May 15 Broker Update on COBRA FSA and HRA Rules

May 15 Client Update on COBRA FSA and HRA Rules

April 24 Form 5500 Deadline Client Update 

April 24 Form 5500 Deadline Broker Update 

April 15 OTC FSA Participant Update 

April 15 OTC HSA Participant Update 

April 13 New OTC Site Client Update 

April 13 New OTC Site Broker Update

April 3 Clarity Care Account Client Update 

April 3 Clarity Care Account Broker Update

March 31 Client Update - Benefits Updates

March 27 Newsletter - COVID-19 Update

March 24 Client and Broker Letter

March 18 Participant Exception Letter

March 17 Broker Letter

March 17 Participant Letter

March 16 Client Letter

March 11 Participant Letter

March 9 Client Letter

 

Helpful Links:

National Public Health Emergency Extended July 23

IRS Announces 2021 ACA Affordability Indexed Amount

Tips for Communicating During COVID-19

When Worker's Comp Applies

Implementing Work From Home Policy

FSA Store Virus Preparedness

Update: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Clarity Temporary Claim Substantiation Policy

IRS HDHP Advisory

CDC Coronavirus Updates

WHO Coronavirus Updates