Benefits Spotlight

Flexible Spending Account Updates

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA): On March 26, 2021, ARPA was passed. 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.    

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was passed retroactively effective January 1, 2020.  As a result, the following benefits are now available:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines – these items are now eligible for FSA and HSA reimbursement.  Eligible items include allergy medicine, cold and flu medicine, pain relievers, and more. In addition, it expands the definition of qualified medical expenses to include menstrual care products. View eligible expenses.     

The Great Escapes destination challenge begins April 5! Ready to stay active, see the world, and connect with your colleagues? Pack your virtual suitcase! The destination challenge, Great Escapes, is for you! Teams of up to five members will step their way to new locations around the globe, and push ahead to earn $50 toward Wellness Rewards for reaching the final destination. You can walk anytime and anywhere- around your neighborhood or in your home! Sync your device or enter your steps into the portal and they will be added to your teammates’ steps. Together, you’ll unlock new virtual destinations and explore the top 25 must-see locations, from all corners of the world! Learn more.

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.

As care needs continue to evolve during the pandemic, Bright Horizons back-up care may be able to assist you with meeting those needs. For the months of March and April, all co-pays for center-based and home-based care will be waived. Learn more about back-up care.

2020 1095-C Forms are Available in Workday: Form 1095-C is required by the Affordable Care Act.  Brown University is required to provide this form to employees that were eligible or enrolled in a health insurance plan provided by Brown University in 2020. You may provide this form to your tax preparer to use in preparing your 2020 tax returns; however, you do not need the actual form to be filed with your taxes. Please refer to the following IRS website for answers to questions you may have about this form: 1095-C Form FAQs

To access your form:

1. Please log into Workday here
2. Click the Pay worklet under Applications from your landing page
3. Under View click on My ACA Forms on the right side of the page
4. View or print your 2020 form.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

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 July 19, 2021
    • COVID out-of-network: Extended through July 19, 2021
  • COVID-19 Treatment: No Cost Share
  • PPO Plan
    • ​INN Treatment: July 19, 2021
    • OON Treatment: July 19, 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: July 19, 2021
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: April 20, 2021
  • Telehealth: No Cost Share
    • COVID-19 Related: July 19, 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 July 19, 2021
    • COVID out-of-network: Extended through July 19, 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 July 19, 2021
    • Non-COVID-19 Related: Extended through July 19, 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 July 19, 2021​