Podcast: The Impact of COVID-19 on Health Benefits

Lockdowns, closures, legislation, and economic changes continue to affect how businesses function and how their employees navigate their finances during this global health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on countless industries, and employer benefits is no exception.

Mayra Olguin, Relationship Manager for National Benefit Services, joins us to discuss how Cafeteria plan participants have been limited by the pandemic and what changes have been put it place by legislators to assist them.

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Here are some highlights from the podcast:

How has COVID impacted cafeteria plan participants? (1:38) “Once state officials decided to close down businesses, it made it really hard for participants to use their benefits. You know, you weren’t able to go to the doctor unless it was a life or death situation. You had to cancel your appointments [or] reschedule them. If you were enrolled in a dependent care flexible [spending] plan, you were not able to use your daycare [benefits] because of the closures of daycare centers.”

What was the government’s response? (4:38) “So once they issued the first round of stimulus payments, they also passed a bill under the CARES Act, which allowed any employers to amend their documents to allow employees the flexibility for the usage of these plans.”

Do you think there are more changes to these plans on the horizon? (6:19) “A lot of daycare [centers] were closed last year, so many participants weren’t able to use them. If your plan allowed…you [to] carry over whatever balance you had from this year and you’re able to use that, great, if your daycare is open. But if your daycare is not open [or] you no longer [have] the use of a daycare…I feel that money should be refunded, and I think that will come in the near future.”

Check out the podcast for more on the impact of COVID on cafeteria plans. Check out all our podcasts in one convenient playlist here!