COVID-19 FAQ for Employees

Return to Campus Information

See below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions from employees on the Institute response to COVID-19. 

Benefits

How have COVID-19 regulations impacted MIT’s Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)?

  1. Employees' entire balance of unused Health Care FSA funds will be carried over from 2021 to 2022. Previously, employees could only carry over up to $550 from one plan year to the next. Once you have exhausted your 2022 election amount, you will automatically have access to your 2021 carryover balance.

    Employees' entire balance of unused Dependent Care FSA funds will be carried over from 2021 to 2022. Dependent Care FSA carryover only applies to 2020 and 2021 plan years. You will have access to your 2021 Dependent Care carry over funds as of May 15, 2022.
  2. The reimbursement window for 2020 Health Care FSA claims is extended to April 30, 2022 or to 60 days after the end of the President’s declaration of a national pandemic, whichever is earlier. As of now, no end date for the national pandemic has been declared.

    The reimbursement window for 2021 Health Care FSA claims is extended to April 30, 2023 or to 60 days after the end of the President’s declaration of a national pandemic, whichever is earlier. As of now, no end date for the national pandemic has been declared.

    The reimbursement window for 2021 Dependent Care FSA claims is April 30, 2022.
  3. Dependent Care FSA participants whose qualifying child turned age 13 during the 2020 plan year can continue to receive reimbursements for their child’s dependent care expenses for the remainder of the 2020 plan year (even though the child turned age 13). To the extent a balance remains at the end of the 2020 plan year, Dependent Care FSA participants may continue to use the unused balance in plan year 2021 until the child turns age 14.

    Enrollment in the Dependent Care FSA during the January 1, 2020 plan year is required to qualify for the changes outlined above.
  4. On March 26, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released IRS Announcement 2021-7, which states that personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes that are purchased “for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19” (COVID-19 PPE) are qualified medical expenses under § 213(d) of the Code. Therefore, COVID-19 PPE expenses, incurred for any period beginning on or after January 1, 2020, may be reimbursed from an employee’s Health Care FSA or Health Savings Account (HSA).

    Also, as a reminder, The CARES Act of March 2020 extended the list of Health Care FSA qualified expenses to include additional over-the-counter medications and menstrual care products.

Can I reduce or cancel my Health Care and/or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account contribution in 2022 (allowed in the 2020 and 2021 plan years due to COVID regulations) without a qualifying life event?

For the 2022 plan year, you must experience a qualifying life event to revoke an election, make a new election, or decrease or increase an existing Health Care or Dependent Care FSA election. This is consistent with plan years prior to 2020.

Learn more about FSAs.

How is BlueCross responding to the pandemic?

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBS) continues to monitor and respond to the serious challenges posed by COVID-19. BCBS will continue to ensure uninterrupted access to care for its health plan members.

BCBS has a dedicated Coronavirus Helpline (1-888-372-1970) available for members to answer any questions about benefits, providers, and share other resources related to COVID-19. They also have a regularly updated Resource Center that includes coverage information and more.

How do I access telehealth benefits?

Benefits eligible employees enrolled in one of the MIT medical plans have access to licensed doctors and providers for minor medical and behavioral health care services, through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Well Connection, with $0 copays.

BCBS Well Connection telehealth video visits are secure. Board-certified physicians and licensed clinicians are required to provide patients with private, secure, HIPAA-compliant, and confidential online visits. Visit Well Connection to see if your physician is a telehealth provider. Effective January 1, 2022, virtual office visit copays, outside of Well Connection, will be the same as in-person office visit copays.

You and your family members can visit doctors and providers anytime, anywhere in the United States, at home, work, or on vacation—weekends and holidays included. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a webcam.

Note for High Deductible Health Plans: The CARES Act amends the rules applicable to HDHPs to allow HDHPs to cover telehealth and other remote care services before the applicable deductible is met. Out of network telehealth and other remote care services will be subject to the standard cost share per plan guidelines. This is in effect until December 31, 2021. Beginning on January 1, 2022, employees enrolled in the MIT High Deductible Health Plan, will have to meet their deductible first and then all visits will have a $0 copay.

Learn more about BCBS Well Connection telehealth

Are out of network telehealth visits covered?

I am enrolled in the MIT Traditional or MIT Choice Health Plan. I was previously seeing an out-of-network behavioral health provider via office visits. My provider has switched to telehealth virtual visits during the pandemic. Will the MIT Traditional and MIT Choice Health Plans still cover the visits if they are now out-of-network telehealth visits?

The MIT Traditional and Choice Plans cover behavioral health out-of-network virtual visits, regardless of how the visit is conducted (telephonic or telehealth). The coverage is outlined below:

  • The MIT Traditional Plan will reimburse up to $60 per visit (the remaining cost is the responsibility of the member). This aligns with how out of network office visits are paid on the Traditional Plan currently. If the out of network telehealth visits are for COVID related treatment, the cost-share will be waived.
  • The MIT Choice Plan will reimburse the cost per visit after the member’s deductible ($500 individual/$1000 family) has been met and the 25% coinsurance has been paid for the visit. If the out-of-network telehealth visits are for COVID related treatment, the cost-share will be waived.

The MIT Health Plans continue to cover behavioral health office visits (both in and out-of-network) as outlined in the current plan documents.

My in-network provider has switched from office visits to telehealth visits (not part of the BCBS Well Connection telehealth benefit). Will these visits be covered by my MIT Health Plan?

Effective January 1, 2022, virtual office visit copays, outside of Well Connection, will be the same as in-person office visit copays. Through December 31, 2021, virtual office visits will have a $0 copay.

The easiest way to ensure that your telehealth visit is covered is by calling BCBS Member Services at 1-800-882-1093. The member services team can look up providers and determine if they are in the BCBS network based upon you’re the plan you are enrolled in.

Does BCBS offer a 24/7 Nurse Care line?

Members can reach a registered nurse 24/7 by calling 1-888-247-Blue (2583). This service is free to all members and offers a safe and convenient clinical resource.

Health and Wellness

What are the requirements for face coverings and Covid-19 testing?

See MIT Now for up to date guidance on Covid-related requirements.

I had a Covid-19 test at MIT Medical. Where can I find my test results?

Results will appear in the Covid Pass app/website in the Medical Test section.

What fitness and wellness options are available for employees?

MIT Community Wellness has developed wellness videos and virtual classes, most at no cost, to support mind and body wellness and to help the community manage stress, develop routine, and create connection. View their offerings to support body, family, and mind.

MIT Recreation offers a variety of ways for MIT employees to play, swim, run, dance, stretch, and move. Virtual options include free live and on-demand group exercise classes and fee-based personal training by appointment. In-person DAPER memberships are available to MIT faculty and staff in Covid Pass. Let's get moving!

Support Resources

How can I support MIT colleagues who may be struggling financially?

You can donate to the MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund, which provides financial assistance to MIT staff and postdoctoral scholars (associates and fellows) who are experiencing an immediate, severe, and temporary financial hardship due to a sudden or non-recurring emergency (e.g., serious illness or injury, family crisis, natural disaster). 

I’m really anxious about COVID-19 – what resources are available to support me during this time?

Many of us can relate to feelings of anxiety and fears about what the future might hold. MyLife Services – MIT’s employee support program – has created a COVID-19 Response Page with specific information and resources for managing work, caregiving responsibilities, as well as one’s own mental health and well-being, during this unique time. Employees are encouraged to contact MyLife Services for individualized support – counseling and stress management sessions can be conducted via phone, video conference or text message.

Employees can also visit MyStress Tools, which offers free access to an online suite of webinars, podcasts, audio, and articles, focused on stress-management.

Are there resources to help me manage my team when some of us are working remote or hybrid schedules?

Yes. The Work Succeeding effort provides guidelines and policies to support working together more flexibly and effectively. Also see our curated articles and resources for managers, including tools for managing employees and teams when the members are working remotely.

Is there support for onboarding new employees who may be working remotely?

New hires can, with few exceptions, be onboarded virtually. Human Resources is able to continue the usual new employee onboarding steps as well, such as activation of benefits. See more detailed information about virtually onboarding new hires and our curated articles, tips, and tools for managers managing teams who perform hybrid and remote work.

Other

What do I do if someone applied for unemployment benefits in my name?

Criminal enterprises using stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file fraudulent unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme. If you believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your personal information, here's what to do.

What are the tax implications if I temporarily or permanently relocate outside of Massachusetts?

MIT employees who are residing temporarily or permanently in a state other than Massachusetts can see guidelines and use this form to change their state of residency or indicate an income tax withholding election..

Have a Question?

If you have a question that wasn't answered here, you can email covid-hr@mit.edu.