Two Year Extension of Telehealth Provisions in Omnibus Budget Bill: There is a Santa Claus(e)

Yes Virginia (and Michigan and Pennsylvania), there really is a Santa Claus(e).

Section 4151 of the Omnibus Budget bill working its way through Congress contains language extending an exception for telehealth benefits from a requirement that participants in a  High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) meet a plan’s deductible limit for all non-preventive benefits in order for an employer and/or employee to make a Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution.

A bit of history: the 2020 CARES Act offered pandemic-era relief to group health plan participants and eligible dependents who were enrolled in a qualified HDHP and who received telehealth benefits prior to meeting the plan’s deductible, which previously would have disqualified them or their employers from making HSA contributions. In essence, the relief provided treatment for telehealth benefits akin to preventive care. This CARES Act relief expired on December 31, 2021.

As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, that relief was somewhat extended, effective from April 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022, regardless of whether the plan was on a calendar or non-calendar year. While this did leave a gap for telehealth benefits received from January 1, 2022 through March 31, 2022, it was a welcome extension of a pandemic-era practice adopted by many employers and plan participants.

This new extension in the Omnibus bill would again extend the telehealth exception from January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2024, a two year period.