The Benefits Team is available to help you with all of your benefit related questions or concerns. We are available via email or phone, and can also schedule a video conference meeting to assist you.
For those affected by COVID-19, there is a comprehensive Pandemic and Communicable Disease Resources for Faculty and Staff webpage available, but below are a variety of Benefit Plans resources compiled to assist you. Many of these plan enhancements are provided via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest stimulus package ever enacted.
Several updates to the State’s medical plans have been implemented in response to COVID-19. These updates apply to those enrolled in the Faculty and Staff Medical Plan (State Health Plan) and the Postdoc Medical Plan (Student Blue). Some of these enhanced medical benefits are listed below, along with links to the applicable webpages.
- Expanded virtual access to doctors – Visits to providers that previously required a face-to-face encounter can now be performed virtually so long as they are a medical necessity and meet criteria. This will further encourage the use of virtual visits and allow providers to monitor members at home, minimizing the spread of infection and easing the burden on emergency rooms. You will need to contact your provider to determine if these services are available.
- Waived prior authorizations for covered services related to COVID-19 that are ordered by a provider, medically necessary, and consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance related to COVID-19.
- Eliminated the member cost-share for COVID-19 testing to ensure there are no cost barriers to testing.
- Increased access to maintenance medications by waiving the early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications. Member cost-sharing will apply as normal.
- Waived CVS home delivery charges for medications so members do not have to leave their homes to pick up their medications.
Some NCFlex plans have enhanced their benefits during this time. From allowing temporary use of the HealthCare Flex Spending Account to pay for over-the-counter items, to allowing changes to the Dependent Daycare Flex Spending Account if your situation with dependent day care changes, these enhancements are intended to assist you in ensuring you are able to gain the most from your benefit plans during this time.
- NCFlex COVID-19 Information (pdf): a summary of what affected individual NCFlex plans can offer, and reminders of existing plan benefits.
New updates to the COVID-19 response allow some mid-year prospective changes to HealthCare Flexible Spending Accounts and Dependent DayCare Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), dental and vision plans. All changes are effective the first of the month. Changes may not be made in the benefits enrollment portal; you must contact your department-assigned Benefits Consultant for assistance with submitting a request for an exception. The deadline to submit such requests is September 30, 2020.
NCFlex will allow one change per FSA plan due to COVID-19, through September 30, 2020 (elections, increases, and decreases), without a qualifying life event. If you decide to enroll or make changes to the Health Care FSA for 2020, you will be able to submit for reimbursement eligible claims that you incurred since January 1, 2020 provided you were employed in an eligible position at that time, or the first of the month following hire date. For those currently enrolled in FSAs, cancellations or decreases are allowed only to the amount you have been reimbursed and/or contributed to the account to date. The deadline for submitting 2019 Health Care FSA and Dependent Day Care FSA claims will now be 60 days past the announcement of the end of the national emergency which is TBD.
For Dental and Vision plans, prospective tier changes (employee to employee/child, etc.) – not plan changes – are allowed. Also, anyone hired on or after March 1, 2020 or who had a qualifying life event and missed the 30-day window, who did not enroll for NCFlex benefits by their new hire enrollment deadline, may be allowed to enroll for coverage now. Contact your department-assigned Benefits Consultant for assistance with submitting a request for an exception.
There is also a webpage detailing the State-wide North Carolina COVID-19 Response.
Through July 31, 2020, Hyatt/MetLife Legal has instituted a Disaster Relief Plan which would allow all employees, including those not enrolled in the legal plan, to utilize some of the aspects of the plan.
The Network Attorneys to provide advice and consultations for many issues including:
- Reviewing or answering questions about healthcare proxies or other estate planning documents
- Reviewing documents for refinancing your home or personal insurance forms
- Answering elder law questions for caregivers
Employees may access the service by calling Hyatt Legal Customer Service Center at 1.800.821.6400, providing NC State University’s group number (29868) as the employer, the last four digits of their SSN or 9-digit ID number, and indicate that they are interested in the Document review and Consultations services being offered.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes provisions that:
- allow those affected by COVID-19 to take a retirement plan/account withdrawal through December 31, 2020, without the 20% mandatory federal tax withholding or 10% early withdrawal penalty, or
- allow those affected by COVID-19 to take a retirement plan loan through September 23, 2020. Eligible loan amounts are revised from 50% to 100% of vested balance, up to $100,000 (still requires collateral for collateralized loans). Through December 31, 2020, participants can request a suspension of loan repayments up to one year.
These CARES Act provisions are available only for Voluntary/Supplemental Retirement Plans. (Note that Prudential can’t process COVID-19 CARES Act distributions or loans until the Plan Sponsor – the State of North Carolina – determines the best options for distributions/loans from the state plans.) Employees must self-certify that they meet the eligibility requirements, and any withdrawals or loans will be handled by the retirement vendor.
Details of how the UNC System Office will adopt the CARES Act provisions within their supplemental retirement plans are outlined on this memo. You may reach out to your retirement vendor or applicable vendor plan rep for assistance. Contact information is on the Voluntary/Supplemental Retirement Plans webpage.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) provides worker assistance, including paid leave. Our response is the establishment of the Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) Policy. For information regarding leave responses to COVID-19, see information on the COVID-19 Faculty and Staff Leave Provisions webpage.
Although not a pleasant subject, it is important to ensure your beneficiaries are current. We have received several inquiries about beneficiaries, and wanted to ensure the instructions to review and update them are readily available. You may update beneficiaries anytime. Note that most benefit vendors are the recordkeepers for their respective plan beneficiaries.
If you are a UNC Optional Retirement Program (ORP) participant, your applicable vendor has your beneficiary information. Upon death, your ORP account becomes vested regardless of the length of participation, and employee and employer proceeds will be paid to the beneficiar(ies) on file.
For applicable NCFlex plans, beneficiary information is housed and can be updated in the benefits enrollment portal accessible via MyPack.