Benefits Spotlight

As you prepare for fall, Bright Horizons can help you to plan ahead for your care needs. For the remainder of 2021*, you may now reserve back-up care up to 90 days in advance.

In addition, beginning in July, eligible employees will have the option to exchange a back-up care day for up to four hours of virtual tutoring. Tutoring is available for your dependents aged 5-18. Tutors can assist children and teens with reading, math, and more than 300 other subjects. Co-pays will apply. Learn more about back-up care and family support services.

* For reservations through December 31, 2021.

Flexible Spending Account Updates

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA): On March 11, 2021, ARPA was enacted. The IRS released Announcement 2021-7, which states that amounts paid for personal protective equipment (PPE) used for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19 now qualify for medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. PPE is now eligible for reimbursement under a Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plan and Health Savings Account (HSA). The following examples of PPE are now eligible for reimbursement: masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. Expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020 are eligible.

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA): On December 27, 2020, the CAA Act was passed. There were several provisions introduced that impact Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plans. Brown University has adopted some of these exciting changes, including the following:

  • Allowing a grace period extension.
  • Allowing mid year changes to the Health Care FSA without a qualifying event.
  • Adopting a special carry forward rule for the Dependent Care FSA where a dependent aged out during the pandemic. 

Learn more.    

Summary of Material Modifications: You may have recently received a Summary of Material Modifications letter from University Human Resources regarding changes to our 403(b) plan.  This disclosure is related to the plan changes implemented in November of 2020 and is not informing you of any additional changes.  University contributions have been restored in March of 2021.  This letter is a required disclosure under ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974).

Changes Related to the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Plan for 2021

As part of the latest COVID relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Dependent Care FSA plans may now allow participants to contribute a maximum of $10,500.00 in 2021. Brown University has adopted this change and will allow an increase to your annual election amount for Dependent Care FSA.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allows a temporary increase to the tax exclusion limit for Dependent Care FSA plans from $5,000 to $10,500 for any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2020 and before January 1, 2022.  This allows a plan to increase the contribution limit up to $10,500 for the taxable years during this period. IRS Notice 2021-26 clarifies that dependent care benefits made available through a carryover or grace period extension as a result of the CAA will remain excludable from income if the benefits would have been excluded from income if used during the preceding taxable year, even if the amount reimbursed exceeds $10,500 during the 2021 taxable year or $5,000 during the 2022 taxable year. 

To request an increase to your Dependent Care FSA election, please log into Workday and follow these instructions to complete a 2021 CAA Flexible Spending Change.  The change will be effective the first of the month following the event date. Please note that this increase is only available for 2021. The maximum annual contribution amount is set to return to $5,000.00 in 2022. 

Brown’s first responsibility as an employer is the safety of our faculty and staff, our students and our community. As such, we are taking all necessary precautions as we bring more individuals back to work on campus. We are requesting all employees who have had the opportunity to receive an FDA-approved vaccination against COVID-19 to provide verification of receipt of vaccination by uploading  the completed vaccination card received from your vaccination provider.

Knowing how many members of our community have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is one step we can take for the University to learn what level of protection we have against the spread of the virus on campus. Individuals who receive the vaccine are less likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19, which reduces the potential for the virus to spread and will inform our strategy for determining when to allow for more in-person operations.

If you received two injections as part of a 2-dose vaccination series, please upload directly to Workday or email a pdf or jpeg to [email protected] the final vaccination card once both injections have been received. Similarly, if your vaccination requires only one injection, please upload your card after that vaccination. All vaccination records will be stored confidentially in Workday and can be loaded via the Vaccine Management link in the Benefits app on your Workday landing page.

Please visit this online “Vaccine Management in Workday” guide for instructions.

We encourage all members of the Brown community to receive the vaccine as soon as possible after becoming eligible to do so. We strongly believe that this is the best strategy as a University to have the greatest impact on stopping the spread of COVID-19 with our employees, students, community members and their families.

United Healthcare (UHC) and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) have announced the dates of coverage and cost-sharing for the following benefits. The end dates for the cost-sharing waivers for certain benefits are listed below for both UHC and BCBS. As the public health emergency is fluid and ever-changing, these dates are subject to change. Please continue to look out for updates on the Benefits Spotlight page.  

  • COVID-19 Testing (diagnostic testing and testing related visits, antibody testing, and treatment): No Cost Share
    • COVID in-network: Extended through October 17, 2021
    • COVID out-of-network: Extended through October 17, 2021
  • COVID-19 Treatment: No Cost Share
  • PPO Plan
    • ​INN Treatment: April 20, 2021
    • OON Treatment: April 20, 2021​​
  • ​​CDHP Plan
    • ​INN Treatment: January 31, 2021
    • OON Treatment: October 22, 2020
  • Virtual Visits (UHC’s version of Telehealth): No Cost Share
  • PPO Plan
    • COVID-19 Related: October 17, 2021
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: April 20, 2021
  • Telehealth: No Cost Share
    • COVID-19 Related: October 17, 2021
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: April 20, 2021
  • ​CDHP Plan
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: December 31, 2020
  • Telehealth: No Cost Share
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: September 30, 2020
  • Telehealth Expanded Coverage (allows for certain providers to provide telehealth services, including audio and video visits): No Cost Share
    • Updated program expiration date: Expanded coverage through December 31, 2020


  • COVID-19 Treatment (diagnostic testing and testing related visits, antibody testing, and treatment): No cost share.
    • COVID in-network: Extended through October 18, 2021
    • COVID out-of-network: Extended through October 18, 2021
  • Teladoc (BCBS’s version of Telehealth): No Cost Share
    • Teladoc is normally free of charge if you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, regardless if it is COVID related.
  • Telehealth: No Cost Share
    • COVID-19 Related: Extended through October 18, 2021
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: Extended through October 18, 2021
  • Telehealth Expanded Coverage (allows for certain providers to provide telehealth services, including audio and video visits): No cost Share
    • Updated program expiration date: Expanded coverage through October 18, 2021