Coronavirus Information for Employers

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated April 2, 2021



COVID-19 Vaccine

A. Priority for vaccines has been determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawaii State Department of Health. View the Executive Summary of the Vaccination Plan here.

Recommendations from the Hawaii COVID‐19 Vaccine Allocation and Prioritization Working Group in conjunction with Department of Health subject matter experts were used to identify the population groups below. Strong consideration was given to CDC Guidance and adherence to ACIP recommendations (See Figure ES‐6: Vaccine Prioritization Phases).

population growth
Source:
Hawaii COVID-19 Executive Summary of the Vaccination Plan

For the most detailed and up-to-date information, please see hawaiicovid19.com.

A. Those who meet the criteria for each phase will be able to get the vaccine through any approved COVID-19 vaccine provider, as supplies allow. As the vaccine has only just arrived in Hawaii, the details will become clearer in the coming weeks.

A. The Department of Health has a new service for kupuna that simplifies the COVID-19 vaccination registration process. View the Departmant of Health news release here.

 
  • Seniors or family caregivers can call 2-1-1 to reach Aloha United Way’s team of trained specialists. This service is available seven days a week for those age 65 and older. Call 2-1-1 for personalized assistance in navigating the registration process and securing appointments. The team can also help eligible individuals arrange for transportation to a vaccination provider.

  • Aloha United Way’s 2-1-1 team is responsible for the initial intake process. Information is then securely electronically transferred to the St. Francis Healthcare System call center team. St. Francis will follow up with kupuna who have called AUW’s 2-1-1 within 24 to 48 hours.

A. For more information, please contact your own legal counsel.

A. No. There is no co-pay to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, even from an out-of-network provider. As with the flu shot, this critical vaccine will be provided at $0 co-pay.

A. As of this time, we do not anticipate setting up vaccine clinics in our members’ place of business because of a number of unprecedented challenges, including requirements for storage and temperature monitoring equipment, as well as other issues.

A. The FDA has approved the COVID-19 vaccines. For more information, please see cdc.gov.

A. For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.

A. Please see the Hawaii State Department of Health at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine.

An executive summary of the State of Hawai‘i’s draft COVID-19 vaccination plan is available here or view the full draft plan here.


COVID-19 Testing

A1. No. Testing requested by employers or testing to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as an employee “return to work” program), or testing for employment purposes are not covered by UHA plans. This aligns with UHA’s Medical Benefits Guide (MBG) and the guidance recently issued by the federal tri-agencies (U.S. departments of: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury).

A2. UHA members who show no COVID-19 symptoms (asymptomatic) must meet current Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for close contact with an infected person, which the CDC defines as any individual who’s been within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of repeated face-to-face contact within a 24-hour period with a laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient.

A UHA member’s attending health care provider will determine if testing is medically appropriate for the individual in accordance with current accepted medical standards of CDC guidelines. Please also refer to UHA COVID FAQ: How do I get tested?

A3. Employees in “close contact” means they must meet current Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for close contact with an infected person, which the CDC defines as any individual who’s been within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of repeated face-to-face contact within a 24-hour period with a laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient.

For those who do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) and do meet the above close contact criteria, an employee’s attending health care provider will determine if a test is medically appropriate for the employee in adherence to Hawaii DOH and CDC guidelines.

Please be aware that Workers’ Compensation coverage may apply.

UHA members who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should call their doctor and can also refer to UHA COVID FAQ: How do I get tested?


Eligibility and Premiums

A. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed by President Biden in March 2021. It includes a number of provisions designed to assist workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A. Among the provisions of this new law is a COBRA premium subsidy that pays for 100% of the applicable COBRA premium for eligible individuals for coverage periods beginning April 1, 2021 and ending September 30, 2021.

If your group health plan is subject to COBRA, there are new COBRA notice requirements for employers and additional COBRA election opportunities for assistance-eligible individuals starting April 1, 2021.

A. Every employer’s situation is unique, so you must consult with your business and/or legal counsel for specific advice for your company. Please note that when contacted by any members who will be impacted by this new law, we are directing them back to their former employers. Please contact your former employer.

We also suggest that employers check the U.S. Department of Labor website regularly for updates should they become available.

A. Yes, UHA will allow for continuation of coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact your Client Services Liaison or Coordinator at (808) 532-4000, ext. 358 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 358 or email[email protected].

A. Yes, UHA will waive waiting-period requirements for members who were furloughed or displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but then later return to work. Please contact your Client Services Liaison or Coordinator for details: (808) 532-4000, ext. 358 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 358 or email[email protected].

A. Depending on your regulatory plan status, you can change medical plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please keep in mind that the change may increase out-of-pocket expenses for your employees. Also, please note this is a process that does take some time; UHA must approve the change in plans and be given time to make the change. We recommend at least 60 days to properly execute the change and for you to properly notify your employees.

A. Please contact your Client Services Liaison or Coordinator to determine if your plan status will allow for these changes. Depending on your regulatory plan status, you may be able to make changes to your drug, vision and dental riders. We are here to guide you as current regulations may not permit the exclusion of certain riders. Call us at (808) 532-4000, ext. 358 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 356 or email[email protected]

A. Because health plan coverage begins on the 1st of the month, Hawaii law requires premium payments to be made by that date to avoid a lapse in coverage.

If you anticipate a delay in making a premium payment, please contact one of our Billing Representatives immediately to discuss your alternatives.

UHA is required to give companies 10-day advance notice that a lapse in coverage will occur if payment is not received within the notice period. Again, if you do anticipate a delay in payment or receive a notice of impending termination of your coverage, please call us immediately to discuss payment options. We recognize that the current COVID-19 situation calls for difficult decisions; we want to work with you as every organization is facing different circumstances.

Call us at (808) 532-4000, ext. 353 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 353 or email[email protected].

A. The CARES Act was signed into federal law on March 27, 2020, to provide billions of dollars in relief for American workers and small businesses. It was designed to offer multiple funding options for those seeking relief.

This act established new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak and provide several Coronavirus relief options:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program - An SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
  2. EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) Emergency Advance - This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  3. SBA Express Bridge Loan - Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  4. SBA Debt Relief - The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, please visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

Beginning May 18, 2020, the City and County of Honolulu launched a COVID-19 reimbursement program for small businesses called the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund.  Please click on the link for more details. 

Local applications for CARES funding can be found at the following:

We recommend that you discuss these programs with your financial and/or tax professional to determine which programs might be best option for you and your business.


One-Time COVID-19 Premium Discount in 2020

Information for COBRA Members

For more information on the questions in this section, please contact:

Client Services
P: (808) 532-4000, ext. 358, Toll free: (800) 458-4600, ext. 358

A1. UHA’s primary purpose as a Hawaii Mutual Benefit Society is to wisely steward premium dollars to provide payment of claims for benefits and services delivered to our members.

Due to statewide stay-at-home mandates brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, UHA experienced a reduction in paid claims volume during the second quarter. This reduction in paid claims allowed us to extend a one-time COVID-19 premium discount to support our employer groups.

We believe that issuing a one-time COVID-19 premium discount is reasonable while maintaining the ability to pay future claims. We also hope this credit will allow you to redeploy funds toward COVID-19 related business costs.

A2. If the credit on your August bill includes employee contributions, then you must consult your own professional advisor as to your obligations to give a refund. Should an employee call UHA and ask about a refund, we will refer the employee back to the employer because it would be an employer obligation to provide a refund.

A3. You must have been a UHA employer group customer or COBRA participant and as of April 1, 2020 had a balance owed on your April 2020 bill.

A4. No credit will be given if you were not a customer as of April 1, 2020.

   

For more information on the questions in this section, please contact:

Employer Services
P: (808) 532-4007, Toll free: (800) 458-4600, ext. 299

A5. UHA calculated the credit based off your April 2020 billed amount. The credit was calculated based off:

  • 50% of the medical premium
  • 50% of the drug premium
  • 100% of the dental premium

A6. You will receive a credit of 50% from your April 2020 billed amounts for medical and drug premiums. If you have a dental rider with UHA, you will receive a 100% credit for dental premiums.

A7. Your credit will be reflected on your August 2020 bill.

A8. No adjustment will be made to your August bill.

A9. A credit will be applied towards the net total owed for all divisions combined that appear on a single summary statement.

A10. If you paid for COBRA coverage during the April 2020 billing period, you will receive a credit if you are still on COBRA. You’ll receive a refund from UHA if you are currently not participating in COBRA.

A11. The one-time COVID-19 premium discount will be applied to your account and, if it results in a credit balance, you will receive a refund.

A12. Please contact Employer Services – Premium Billing Section: Oahu (808) 532-4000 ext 353 Neighbor Island: (800) 458-4600 ext 353


Additional Resources

A.The Department of Health developed a new program, Kū Makani—The Hawai‘i Resiliency Project, offering dedicated crisis counseling to callers facing emotional fallout related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 
  • Kū Makani has an array of services to help residents experiencing anxiety, depression, panic or just feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of the pandemic.

  • This is a FREE service.

  • To reach a trained Kū Makani counselor, call the Hawai’I CARES hotline:
    • Oahu – (808) 832-3100
    • Neighbor Islands: Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii – 1 (800) 753-6879
    • Kū Makani crisis counseling hours:
      • 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Monday-Friday
      • 9:00a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

  • Visit the Kū Makani website and social media for detail about the program, services, upcoming events, and island-specific resources: kumakani.org

  • For non-pandemic counseling and services, including crisis support, mental health resources and substance use treatment services, you may always call the Hawai‘i CARES hotline 24/7 at 1 (800) 753-6879 or text “ALOHA” to 741741.