Some of our council’s health funds are making changes related to COVID-19 coverage, access to tele-medicine, and health-benefits eligibility. Two examples are below. To find out whether your plan has been modified, check with your health-fund administrator (contact info below).
Florida UBC Health Fund (Locals 2411 and 1000)
Here is an excerpt from an update to this plan:
Full cost of COVID-19 testing/screening covered and encouraged
We are pleased to advise you that effective immediately the plan will cover expenses you or any covered family member may incur for testing/screening to determine if you have been infected by this virus. The plan will pay to your health care provider or reimburse to you directly the full cost of such testing for each covered family member with no deductible or copayment percentage applied. However, it is very important for you to understand that such coverage is available ONLY if you use the services of a provider that participates in the plan's PPO, as explained in your Summary Plan Description (benefit booklet), or the test is performed by a local or state public health center. There have been instances where providers have charged thousands of dollars for this test when the cost should be only a nominal amount.
United Healthcare (UHC) Nurseline available to all covered persons – its use is urged
When the decision to transition to UHC's PPO was made, one of the covered services that made UHC's offer attractive was the availability of the Nurseline. With many health-care providers' facilities currently being overwhelmed because of the treatment of or testing for the coronavirus, we wanted to remind you of this very valuable tool in keeping your Family healthy. We would urge you to make use of the Nurseline for any non-emergency health-care assistance your family may require. The person you speak with on the Nurseline will be qualified to discuss your symptoms with you, diagnose your condition under many circumstances, recommend treatment, and even offer medication on a limited basis.
Gulf Coast Carpenters and Millwrights Health Trust, including the Louisiana Millwright Tier (Local 729) and the Texas Millwright Tier (Locals 2232 and 1421)
Here is an excerpt from a letter to participants of this plan:
In order to lessen the burden on those who might lose coverage due to COVID-19 and its economic effect, the fund will add hours, on a one-time basis, up to the maximum hours required for one month of continued eligibility for each affected participant. Therefore, the fund will add hours to your hour bank if these two conditions are met: (1) your hour bank is not completely full, and (2) you have been affected by COVID-19 (see link below for criteria).
Effective March 18, 2020, and until the public health emergency related to COVID-19 is declared over by the federal government, the plan will cover (at no cost to the participant) in vitro diagnostic tests that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, for which the developer has requested emergency use authorization, or that are authorized by a state, and serological tests that are used to detect antibodies against the virus (thus indicating whether the person has been exposed to the virus).
During the public health emergency, the plan will also cover (at no cost to the participant) office visits that result in an order for, or administration of, a COVID-19 diagnostic test. If a health care provider decides to first do other related tests (e.g., blood tests or influenza tests), and the “visit” results in an order for, or administration of, a COVID-19 test, the plan will cover these related tests at no cost to the participant. The term “visit” (e.g., office visit, urgent care visit, emergency room or telehealth visit) will also encompass non-traditional settings such as drive-through sites where licensed healthcare providers administer the tests.
Effective March 18, 2020, and until the public health emergency related to COVID-19 is declared over by the federal government, the plan will cover (at no cost to the participant) any in-network tele-health visit that is otherwise covered under the plan and that can be conducted in an audio/video format (using phones, computers or other devices) instead of in-person.
Extension of Certain Health Plan Deadlines.
In determining certain deadlines under the plan, the plan will disregard the “outbreak period” and extend deadlines as described [in the links] below. The “outbreak period” began on March 1, 2020, when a national emergency related to COVID-19 was declared, and will end 60 days after the end of the emergency (or on another date issued by the departments in the future).
Oklahoma and Arkansas Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund
Here is an excerpt from an announcement to participants of this plan:
Work is down in many places, and participants are concerned about maintaining their coverage under the fund. The trustees are making a temporary change in the eligibility requirements, in response to this crisis, to make it easier to keep your coverage.
The trustees will be adding up to 125 hours to your hour bank if you have been affected by the coronavirus. Remember that it takes 125 hours to qualify for a month's coverage. And hours you earn over the 125 required hours go into your hour bank. Hour banks are limited to 625 hours. While we would like to add hours for everyone, to conserve our resources during this critical time, the 625 hour limit on the Hour Bank will stay in effect.
Here's how to contact your local's health and welfare fund:
Texas Carpenters & Millwrights Fringe Benefits
Louisiana Carpenters Regional Council Health Benefit Trust Fund
Phone: 225-927-6068 ext. 101
Phone: 225-927-6068 ext. 102 (To Check on Hours)
Toll Free: 1-888-922-3002
AFL-AGC Health & Welfare Fund
Mid-South Carpenters Regional Council Health & Welfare
Toll Free: 1-800-831-4914
Local 1263, Local 1000, Local 2411, and Local 216:
Southern Benefit Administrators, Inc.