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Employee Benefits Market Positivity in an Unknown, Scary Time

Friday, April 3, 2020
Paul Shaheen

By: Paul V. Shaheen, RHU, REBC, Vice President / Employee Benefit Solutions

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, staying optimistic and positive has undoubtedly been a challenge unto itself, especially with all the health and financial uncertainty the pandemic has wrought. As a starting point, please visit our COVID-19 Employer Resource Center for continuous updates from key Government Agencies, Local Governments, Medical / Ancillary Carrier Updates, and Industry Associations

While there is certainly more to come, we thought to take a moment to summarize where and how both the government and the insurance industry have responded to help business and their employees. It’s astounding to see many new federal subsidies and assistance programs that have arrived in a short time-frame. 

  • Through the new CARES ACT, businesses will be encouraged to keep their employees on payroll through a series of low-interest government loans. Many of these loans, should employers maintain their employees’ ‘at work’ status, will convert into grants that won’t need to be paid back. 
  • Through the Families First Act, employees will be granted extended paid sick leave and/or extended family leave if they or a family member has been sickened with COVID-19, or if a parent is forced to stay home with kids now forced to e-lean from home. 
  • Group medical carriers have also suggested that even if employees are either laid off or furloughed, they can stay on your group medical plans through at least the end of April with no change in ‘active employee’ status.
  • Blue Cross and United Healthcare have invoked a special open enrollment period for the month of April. 
    • Employees not on their respective employer’s group medical plan can now join (even off renewal) – with no questions asked and no pre-existing exclusions. 
  • Ancillary carriers, such as Guardian and Principal, have announced zero rate increases for groups renewing between May and August 1st. Many of them have said that group clients will be given flexibility on premium payments for up to 60-days. 
    • Additionally, Principal, at a time when many people need it most, is offering all clients a free Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for any group client that may not have it already. 
  • For those who’ve been considering additional life or disability insurance coverage to protect themselves and their families, some carriers are now offering the ability to apply for up to $3 million in life insurance and/or $10,000 in monthly disability protection with NO paramedic exam. 
    • While the offers are age-specific (50 and under for disability, and up to age 60 for life coverage), it’s about as easy a way to apply for coverage as the market has ever seen. And so far, it would appear, many folks are taking advantage. 

COVID-19 will be with us for a while, but even still, knowing that options exist to manage it as best as possible is what we are here to do for you. If you have any further questions, please contact your Horton team member via their direct dial number, their email address, or to be directed to your team member call us at 800-383-8283.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.