IRS Permits Benefits Changes Midyear

If your company offers health benefits, the plan you chose last fall may not be best for you now, in light of all the hardships employers and employees have faced the last few months. Luckily, the IRS announced in May their plan to allow employees to “add, drop, or alter some of their benefits” for the remainder of the year…if your employer allows it. This will apply to both employers that buy health insurance to cover their workers and those that pay claims on their own. The IRS now permits benefits changes midyear due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is no way to determine how many companies will take advantage of the opportunity. So, if you have questions for your company it never hurts to ask. Jay Savan of human resources consultancy Mercer says if you find yourself “economically strapped and [your] finances have changed…[you] may want to approach [your] employer and see if they’re planning to adopt any of these changes.

IRS Permits Benefits Changes Midyear

This may seem like a foreign concept to many people, and that’s because it is. If you still have an employer-sponsored health plan amid the pandemic, you may have the option to select a cheaper plan that’s right for you. This is optional for employers so ask yours if they will be participating in this special enrollment period. Here are two questions experts say they are receiving a lot lately.

If my spouse gets laid off, can we switch our coverage to my employer plan?

The answer is yes, but you should also know that this is a long-standing rule and is permitted any time insurance changes are made. Further, if workers have a qualifying life event, they are entitled to change their coverage throughout the year even without these new temporary guidelines in place. Just because the IRS is permitting benefits changes midyear right now does not mean there aren’t ways to get out of your coverage when we aren’t in a pandemic.

Can I drop my employer coverage altogether?

You can if your employer allows it. The way it will work with the new IRS guidelines is that you will have to replace your previous plan with another form of comprehensive coverage similar to what you previously had. Keep in mind, a short-term plan does not count as comprehensive coverage. Although limited-duration plans have been encouraged, they often don’t cover preventative care and renewal is not guaranteed. If you are unhappy with your current coverage, keep in mind that employers do not have to participate in these changes.  Georgetown University professor Sabrina Corlette says that it is unlikely that many companies will take to this new opportunity.

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