COVID-19 Benefits FAQ

COVID-19 Benefit Notifications
Health Plan, Prescription Drug Coverage and Flexible Spending Accounts
 Retirement Plan


COVID-19 Benefit Notifications

In light of COVID-19 relief rules recently issued by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor, and guidance issued by the University’s insurance carriers, certain employee and retiree benefit notice, election and claims deadlines have been extended.

Notifications include:

  • Extension of special enrollment deadlines for group health plans;
  • Extension of the 2019 health and dependent care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) deadlines;
  • 2020 mid-year FSA election changes and increase in carryover amounts;
  • 2020 FSA reimbursement of over-the-counter medicines and menstrual care products;
  • Extended plan claim and appeal deadlines under the University’s group health and disability plans;
  • Premium payment relief for certain employees and former employees enrolled in group life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), as well as an extension of deadlines to request rights or benefits under the plan; and
  • Extension of the COBRA election deadline, COBRA premium payment deadline and the deadline for qualifying event and disability notices.

View the Human Resources COVID-19 Benefit Notifications webpage for further information. If you have any questions on how these notifications may apply to your specific situation, contact HR Shared Services at hrservice@syr.edu or 315.443.4042.



Health Plan, Prescription Drug Coverage and Flexible Spending Accounts

The University has worked with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS), the University’s medical benefit administrator, to expand coverage to include telemedicine. Effective October 1, in most situations, your member cost-sharing will be equivalent to the amount that you pay to see a provider in-person. You can take advantage of telemedicine in two different ways:

  • Telemedicine provided by your physician’s office: If your health care provider, including behavioral health providers, offer virtual and telephonic options for care, eligible services will be covered under the health plan.
  • Telemedicine delivered through MDLIVE:  MDLIVE, a national telehealth provider, offers patients with 24/7 access to a network of board-certified doctors, pediatricians and licensed therapists that can treat over 50 non-emergency conditions, including providing behavioral health services, via a computer or mobile device.

Any questions on this benefit can be directed to our dedicated customer care team at Excellus BCBS at 800.493.0318 (TTY: 800.662.1220) Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. EST. and Friday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. EST or by email to: cc.select.dedicated@excellus.com.

MDLIVE follows guidelines from the CDC regarding appropriate screening for COVID-19. MDLIVE providers can provide the initial screening for COVID-19, but cannot currently order the specific laboratory test for COVID-19. MDLIVE provides patients with 24/7 access to a network of board-certified doctors, pediatricians and licensed therapists that can treat over 50 non-emergency conditions, including providing behavioral health services, via a computer or mobile device.

Your member cost for FDA-approved testing related services will be waived to ensure appropriate access to testing and diagnosis. This generally includes diagnostic tests, as well as in-network provider office visits, in-network urgent care visits, and emergency room visits resulting in a medically necessary COVID-19 test. If an in-network provider is not available, the health plan will cover testing through an out-of-network provider at no cost to the member.

Any questions can be directed to our dedicated customer care team at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield at 800.493.0318 (TTY: 800.662.1220) Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. EST and Friday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. EST, or by email to: cc.select.dedicated@excellus.com.

To meet the clinical needs of our members during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) global health emergency, OptumRx, the University’s prescription drug benefit administrator, is allowing members a one-time early refill of their medications to ensure they have an uninterrupted supply.

Covered members may obtain this one-time early refill of their prescription medications if they have refills remaining on file at a participating retail, mail-order or specialty pharmacy. The refill will be consistent with the standard number of days’ supply previously filled by the member (e.g., 30 or 90 day supply).

This allowance will continue to be evaluated to determine the appropriate duration based on CDC guidance, federal and state declarations and other relevant data.

OptumRx can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711).

OptumRx can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711).  In addition, OptumRx has developed a detailed COVID-19 microsite that will assist individuals with questions regarding prescription drug coverage and other important information during this global health emergency.

New for 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has expanded the list of health care items that are eligible for reimbursement from health care FSAs.

Effective immediately, the following health care expenses incurred after December 31, 2019, now qualify for reimbursement:

  • Over-the-counter drugs and medicines without a doctor’s prescription
  • Menstrual care products

Syracuse University’s flexible spending account vendor, HealthEquity/WageWorks, is working to update their website and system to ensure these changes are implemented as soon as possible.  Should you have any questions on these changes or the reimbursement process, please contact the HealthEquity/WageWorks customer care team at 877.924.3967 (TTY: 866.353.8058).

The deadline for employees to submit eligible expenses for reimbursement from their remaining 2019 health and dependent care FSAs has been extended for up to 60 days after the Coronavirus (COVID-19) national health emergency is declared over by the federal government. Once the national health emergency is declared over and the 60 days have expired, up to $500 of any unused health FSA funds from 2019 will be rolled over to your health care FSA for use in 2020. Please note there is no rollover permitted for the dependent care FSA.

Important Note: When employees log into their HealthEquity/WageWorks account, they will see a “claim by” date of 12/31/20 for their 2019 FSA. The claim by date is subject to change depending on when the Outbreak Period has been declared over. Therefore, employees are encouraged to submit claims for expenses incurred during 2019 as soon as possible.

Should you have any questions on the reimbursement process, please contact the WageWorks/HealthEquity customer care team at 877.924.3967 (TTY: 866.353.8058).

Eligible faculty and staff are allowed to change their health and dependent care FSA elections for 2020 without having a qualifying family status change. Allowable changes must be on a prospective basis and include new elections, as well as increases or decreases to existing FSA elections. If an election is made to reduce the health care FSA contribution, the reduced contribution must be no less than claims that have already been reimbursed or approved for reimbursement. If you wish to make a change to your 2020 FSA election or have any questions, please contact HR Shared Services at hrservice@syr.edu.

  • Contact your Senior HR Business Partners
  • Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer, Andrew Gordon: 315.741.1618
  • HR Shared Services: hrservice@syr.edu or 315.443.4042
  • Carebridge Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: Licensed, credentialed counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by calling 800.437.0911.
  • Excellus BCBS: select.dedicated@excellus.com or 800.493.0318 (TTY: 800.662.1220)
  • OptumRx: 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711)
  • Excellus 24/7 Nurse Call Line for faculty or staff with University medical coverage: 800.493.0918 (TTY: 800.662.1220)


Retirement Plan

To help you navigate the ups and downs of the market, TIAA has published guidance on market volatility and is hosting a variety of webinars to help keep participants informed during these uncertain times. In addition, TIAA financial consultants are available to provide personalized financial planning services to eligible participants. Participants may schedule an appointment to have a phone or virtual consultation with one of the University’s dedicated financial consultants, or they may call TIAA at 855.842.CUSE (2873) (TTY: 800.842.2755) weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET).

Eligible participants who meet certain criteria may take a loan from either their Noncontributory Retirement Plan or Voluntary Retirement Plan accounts. Additionally, the Voluntary Retirement Plan and the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan offer the ability to take a financial hardship withdrawal under certain circumstances.

To obtain more information on how to take a loan or withdrawal, TIAA financial consultants are available to provide personalized financial planning services to eligible participants. You may call TIAA directly at 855.842.CUSE (2873) (TTY: 800.842.2755), or begin the process online by logging into your TIAA account.

TIAA financial consultants are available to provide you with personalized financial planning services. For questions about options for repayment of your existing loan balance, please contact TIAA at 855.842.CUSE (2873) (TTY: 800.842.2755).

During this time we ask that you send an email to hrservice@syr.edu requesting a phone meeting to discuss the retiree benefits. Please include your SUID, potential date of retirement and available times for a phone call. A representative will contact you within 24 hours to schedule a meeting. **If you are not looking to retire within the next 3 months we ask that at this time you wait to schedule a retiree meeting. For general retirement information please visit our Retirees page on the HR website.