Effective EOD May 11, 2023: COVID-19 Federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) will expire
UT Benefits Updates Related to COVID-19
May 9, 2023 > COVID-19 Federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) will expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023
January 15, 2022 > Coverage for COVID-19 At-Home Test Kits and COVID-19 Antiviral Medications
August 23, 2021 > COVID Treatment Effective September 1, 2021
May 1, 2021 > Updated UT FLEX Options Based on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
February 15, 2021 > UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Visits Extended
February 4, 2021 > Updated UT FLEX Options Based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA)
December 7, 2020 > Important Deadline for the CARES Act and the UTSaver Retirement Programs
November 24, 2020 > UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Benefits After the Public Health Emergency
August 27, 2020 > UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Visits Extended
July 17, 2020 > UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Visits Extended
July 9, 2020 > COVID-19 Risk Assessment Chart from the Texas Medical Association
June 2, 2020 > Updated COVID-19 Details for UT FLEX, Ending Early Prescription Refills
April 24, 2020 > The CARES Act & Your UT FLEX Health Care Reimbursement Account
April 17, 2020 > The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
April 8, 2020 > Enhanced Benefits Available for Medical Services Related to COVID-19
April 7, 2020 > Prior Authorization Requirements Waived for Most Transfers to Post-Acute Care Facilities
March 18, 2020 > Telemedicine Services during COVID-19
March 10, 2020 > Key Benefits Details
COVID-19 Federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) will expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023
May 9, 2023
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared that for COVID-19, the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) will expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. With the end to the PHE, certain UT medical and prescription drug plan provisions will change, while other plan provisions will remain in place. Please see details below for benefits related to diagnosing and treating COVID-19 post May 11, 2023.
Medical Benefits: UT SELECT, UT CONNECT and UT CARE Medicare PPO
- Covid-19 Vaccine – Continue coverage at 100% as preventive care. Includes coverage under Medicare Part B for UT CARE enrollees.
- Testing for COVID-19 in an office setting will result in an office visit copay, as applicable.
- Treatment for COVID-19 is already covered as any other illness and there is a patient cost share. That means office visits, outpatient care and inpatient treatment for COVID-19 are covered under standard medical plan design with the application of office visit copays and deductible/coinsurance, as applicable.
- Regular enrollment guidelines and deadlines in place for COBRA, as applicable.
Prescription Benefits: UT SELECT, UT CONNECT and UT CARE Medicare Part D
- COVID-19 Vaccine – Continue coverage at 100% as preventive care (pre-Medicare UT SELECT and UT CONNECT only).
- COVID-19 Test Kits – Over the counter (OTC) COVID-19 test kits will no longer covered by the UT prescription drug plan. This is consistent with other OTC products not being covered.
- Treatment is already covered as any other illness with patient cost share.
- Medication for COVID-19 oral antiviral products, under the Emergency Use Authorization, will continue at $0 cost share until a commercial product is available. Once commercially available, antiviral drugs will be covered with patient cost share according to plan design.
Coverage for COVID-19 At-Home Test Kits and COVID-19 Antiviral Medications
January 15, 2022
Consistent with guidance released by the federal government, starting January 15, 2022, coverage is available under the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT prescription drug program for FDA-approved COVID-19 diagnostic over-the-counter (OTC) test kits at no cost to our members.
It will take some time before Express Scripts and their network pharmacies can coordinate the logistics necessary to process this coverage based on the new federal guidance. Until then, subject to the monthly limit described below, a claim can be submitted directly to Express Scripts along with a receipt for expenses on OTC COVID test kits purchased on or after January 15.
How and where?
Once the new process is in place (estimated by February 1), using your UT SELECT/UT CONNECT Express Scripts prescription drug ID card or your UT SELECT Part D ID card, members will be able to obtain a COVID-19 test kit from an in-network Express Scripts (ESI) pharmacy with no out-of-pocket cost. Be sure to bring the test kit(s) to the pharmacy counter so the purchase can be processed through your prescription benefit plan for a $0 copayment.
Here are some additional details:
- OTC COVID-19 test kits are available at no cost at an in-network ESI pharmacy. Locate a network pharmacy in your area >
- A prescription is not required to obtain an OTC COVID-19 test kit.
- Federal guidance allows coverage for up to eight (8) tests per month (30 days) per member at no cost. If additional test kits are needed during a month, they can be purchased at retail cost.
Q: If I purchase a test kit from an out-of-network pharmacy or don't go to the pharmacy counter, can I file a claim?
- Yes, you can submit a manual claim form (.pdf) with documentation (the receipt is required). Please contact the appropriate Express Scripts Customer Service team at the number listed below for assistance with filing any claims.
- Reimbursement is limited to $12 per OTC test kit purchased from an in or out-of-network pharmacy.
Q: What if I purchased an OTC test kit prior to January 15, 2022?
COVID-19 OTC test kits are not eligible for reimbursement if purchased prior to January 15, 2022.
COVID-19 Antiviral Medications
Antiviral Medications are now available to treat COVID-19 and benefits are provided to UT SELECT and UT CONNECT members through their prescription benefit.
Here are additional details:
- Supplies of the medications are limited and may not be available at all pharmacies. Members are permitted to go to any pharmacy that has the medications available (in or out-of-network). It’s recommended that members call ahead to their desired pharmacy to ensure supply.
- Prescription medications will apply a regular prescription copayment.
Additional information will continue to be shared as new guidance is issued.
Questions? Contact Express Scripts
UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Prescription Plan Customer Service
1 (800) 818-0155 | 24/7
Part D Customer Service
1 (800) 860-7849 | 24/7
COVID Treatment Effective September 1, 2021
August 23, 2021
Effective September 1, 2021, COVID treatment will be covered as “any other illness.” Applicable member cost share (copayments, deductible, coinsurance) will apply. The cost of the vaccine and testing will remain covered 100%.
Updated UT FLEX Options Based on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP)
May 1, 2021
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), signed into law on March 11, 2021, includes a provision that allows plan administrators the option to temporarily increase the annual calendar year contribution limit for Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts (DCRA) to a maximum of no more than $10,500.
The option to increase the annual maximum is applicable only for the 2021 calendar year and plan administrators are authorized to implement the change at any level up to $10,500 or to leave the existing maximum annual election amount as is. With consideration for the plan year ending on August 31, 2021 and other key factors, the UT FLEX DCRA maximum for the current 2020-2021 plan year is being raised to $9,600.
Beginning now, UT FLEX DCRA annual elections for the current plan year have a maximum of $9,600 per family (up from $5,000 previously). For employees who are married and filing separately for federal income tax purposes, the new annual limit for the current plan year is $4,800 (up from $2,500). This temporary increase in the annual contribution limit is applicable only for the 2020-2021 plan year, ending on August 31, 2021.
Eligible employees who do not have one may add a DCRA account and current participants may make a one-time election to increase their 2020-2021 DCRA election to no more than $9,600. Changes should be requested no later than June 1, 2021.
Consistent with updates under previous federal relief measures, the deadline to incur expenses and claim DCRA funds for the current plan year remains August 31, 2022. While Health Care Reimbursement Accounts (HCRAs) are not impacted by this latest provision, the same extended deadline to incur expenses and file claims also still applies for all 2020-2021 HCRA funds.
Please contact your institution’s Benefits or Human Resources office no later than June 1, 2021, if you wish to increase your UT FLEX DCRA account under this provision.
UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Visits Extended
February 15, 2021
On November 24, 2020, the University of Texas System Office of Employee Benefits announced plans for telemedicine benefits following the expiration of the Public Health Emergency (PHE), which was set to end in January. Recently, the PHE was extended through March and may be extended further depending on changing conditions. In response to the continuing PHE and uncertainty around the end date, the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT Medical plans will continue to allow the broad range of telemedicine services that are currently available through August 31, 2021.
Please closely review all Annual Enrollment materials during July 2021 for updated details and plan design information for plan year 2021-2022.
REMINDER: The telemedicine benefit, which includes an office visit copay, does not affect your $0 copay MDLIVE Virtual Visit benefit.
Updated UT FLEX Options Based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA)
February 4, 2021
Expanded options and extended deadlines are now available for 2019-2020 UT FLEX participants with a remaining Healthcare Reimbursement Account (HCRA) or Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA) balance as well as for 2020-2021 UT FLEX participants. The updates described below are based on changes authorized by the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA).
2019-2020 UT FLEX HCRA and DCRA Participants
If you were a 2019-2020 UT FLEX participant and have a remaining balance, the following provisions apply to you:
- Extends the time to incur new eligible expenses and the deadline to submit claims to 08/31/2021.
- Previously, the extended deadline to use all HCRA and DCRA funds was 12/31/2020.
- Previously, the extended deadline to submit claims for HCRA and DCRA funds was 01/15/2021.
- DCRA participants – the CAA extended the age limit for using DCRA contributions for children to age 14.
- Please Note: If you participated in the UT FLEX HCRA in 2019-2020 but are NOT a current HCRA participant for 2020-2021, your debit card is not functional. You must submit claims directly for any additional eligible expenses incurred.
2020-2021 UT FLEX HCRA and DCRA Participants
If you are a current 2020-2021 UT FLEX participant, the following provisions apply to you:
- Extends the time to incur new eligible expenses and the deadline to submit claims to 08/31/2022.
- Previously, the deadline to use all DCRA funds was 8/31/2021 and the deadline to use HCRA funds was 11/15/2021.
- Previously, the deadline to submit claims for HCRA and DCRA funds was 11/30/2021.
- Midyear changes – Each current year participant will be allowed one single election change per account for the 2020-2021 plan year. The deadline to make this type of midyear change is April 30, 2021.
- All midyear election changes must be made on a prospective basis. Decreases and drops are limited to annual election amounts not less than amounts already contributed or reimbursed (whichever is greater).
- Contact your institution’s Benefits or Human Resources office if you wish to make changes to your current FLEX HCRA or FLEX DCRA account(s).
- DCRA participants – the CAA extended the age limit for using DCRA contributions for children to age 14.
If you are eligible for a 2020-2021 UT FLEX account, but NOT currently participating, the following provisions apply to you:
- Midyear changes – Each eligible employee who is not currently participating can elect an HCRA and/or DCRA account for the 2020-2021 plan year. The deadline to make this type of midyear election to add an account is April 30, 2021. New accounts elected under this provision will have expanded time to incur and submit claims as noted above and the expanded age limit for DCRA claims will also apply.
*In order to closely monitor your account balance(s) in the UT FLEX plan, we strongly recommend you register your account with Maestro Health, the UT FLEX plan administrator, at www.myutflex.com.
It is also recommended you download and utilize the Maestro Health’s mSAVE mobile app in order to access current account balances, review account activity, submit claims and more.
For additional questions or concerns related to your UT FLEX accounts, please contact Maestro’s customer service team at (844) UTS-FLEX (887-3539) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important Deadline For the CARES Act and the UTSaver Retirement Programs
December 7, 2020
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a response to the public health crisis and associated economic fallout in the wake of COVID-19, was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The University of Texas System Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) incorporated some of the features of the CARES Act into the UTSaver 403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) and the UTSaver 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) to help our participants get through the COVID-19 crisis. For more information about these options please review "Your Loan Distribution Options Under the CARES Act" (.pdf).
A major feature of the Cares Act, the Coronavirus Related Distribution (CRD), expires in December 2020. To ensure all requests are processed, UT System’s Office of Employee Benefits must receive all CRD applications in good order before Noon on Monday, December 28th, 2020. Depending on product and vendor, some employees may have an earlier deadline.
For additional details about this important deadline and how to apply, please read our full CARES Act Update.
Please Note: THE CARES ACT DOES NOT APPLY TO THE TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF TEXAS OR THE UT OPTIONAL RETIREMENT PROGRAM.
UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Benefits After the Public Health Emergency
November 24, 2020
While the timing is still uncertain, the University of Texas System Office of Employee Benefits has been planning for upcoming transitions for some of the enhanced benefits that have been offered during the public health emergency around COVID-19. Currently the national emergency declaration is set to expire in January 2021. We are closely monitoring the situation and will post additional updates if it is extended.
We are pleased to let members know that after the public health emergency declaration expires, expanded benefits for telemedicine under the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT plans will continue to be offered. There will be some adjustments from the broad level of benefits that have been available since March 2020 in response to the public health emergency. Below are a few key details about your coverage for telemedicine visits after the declaration expires.
- Telemedicine benefits will be offered according to federal guidelines from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and American Medical Association (AMA). This means benefits for certain types of care, including treatment such as physical therapy, will be available only for in-person care.
- Benefits for covered telemedicine visits with network providers will continue to be at the “office visit” level with the same copay that would apply for an in-person visit for the same care.
- Telemedicine care obtained through MDLIVE will continue to be covered at 100% ($0 copay).
- For specific questions about what will be covered under telemedicine benefits, please call your provider directly or you can contact a UT SELECT Health Advocate or the CONNECT Customer Service Team at the telephone number listed on the back of your UT SELECT or UT CONNECT ID card.
UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Visits Extended
August 27, 2020
The UT SELECT and UT CONNECT telemedicine benefit is being extended and will remain in place while the federal public health emergency related to COVID-19 remains in effect.
The telemedicine benefit, which includes an office visit copay, does not affect your $0 copay MDLIVE Virtual Visit benefit.
UT SELECT & UT CONNECT Telemedicine Visits Extended
July 17, 2020
UT SELECT & UT CONNECT telemedicine visits are being extended through August 31, 2020 (with office visit copay) due to COVID-19. This benefit will be re-evaluated for potential continuation past August 31, 2020.
Please note, this does not impact your $0 copay MDLIVE Virtual Visit benefit.
COVID-19 Risk Assessment Chart from the Texas Medical Association
July 9, 2020
Know Your Risk During COVID-19
The levels are based on input from the physician members of the task force and the committee, who worked from the assumption that – no matter the activity – participants were taking as many safety precautions as they can.
Download and read about the TMA Risk Assessment Chart > (Source: Texas Medical Association)
Updated COVID-19 Details for UT FLEX, Ending Early Prescription Refills
June 2, 2020
The IRS recently released new guidance around COVID-19 (Notice 2020-29) for Section 125 Cafeteria Plans, including the UT Benefits program. In accordance with this guidance, UT FLEX participants will have some additional flexibility with using their UT FLEX Health Care Reimbursement (HCRA) and Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts (DCRA).
The following changes are effective June 1, 2020:
Extended Deadline to Use 2019-2020 UT FLEX HCRA and DCRA Funds
- Expands the time period in which participants may incur new eligible expenses for the 2019-2020 plan year through December 31, 2020.*
- Previously, the deadline to use DCRA funds was August 31.
- Previously, the deadline to use HCRA funds was November 15.
- Effective December 31, 2020, any unclaimed HCRA or DCRA funds from the 2019-2020 plan year will be forfeited.
- The claims filing deadline for 2019-2020 HCRA and DCRA claims will be January 15, 2021.
- This extension may be a factor when making UT FLEX elections for plan year 2020-2021.
- Members with unanticipated remaining balances for 2019-2020 should take that into consideration when making next year’s UT FLEX elections during the upcoming Annual Enrollment period (July 15-31, 2020).
- Contribution amounts elected for 2020-2021 can be used throughout next plan year, with the regular deadlines for eligible expenses of August 31, 2021 (DCRA) and November 15, 2021 (HCRA).
Midyear Election Changes
UPDATE: This "Midyear Election Changes" guideline no longer applies to COVID related requests as of August 31, 2020.
- Within certain limits, participants may add or drop accounts and increase or decrease contributions for existing accounts.
- All changes must be made on a prospective basis. No changes are allowed prior to June 1, 2020
- Decreases and drops are limited to amounts not less than amounts already reimbursed
Please contact your institution’s Benefits or Human Resources office if you wish to make changes to your current FLEX HCRA or FLEX DCRA account(s).
*In order to closely monitor your account balance(s) in the UT FLEX plan, we strongly recommend you register your account with Maestro Health, the UT FLEX plan administrator, at www.myutflex.com. All remaining balance information and claims history is available at the site, plus your registration allows you to receive text alerts regarding HCRA Debit Card purchases, requests for documentation, etc.
Early Prescription Refills
Effective June 30, 2020, the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT prescription “early refills” accommodation will be turned off. This temporary benefit enabled participants to obtain up to a 90-day supply prior to the regular “time to reorder” timeframe.
The CARES Act & Your UT FLEX Health Care Reimbursement Account
April 24, 2020
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, broadened certain regulations around the use of Health Flexible Spending Accounts, including the UT FLEX Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA). These enhancements allow some additional health care products to be claimed as eligible expenses through your HCRA. Over-the-counter (OTC) items, such as cold medicine, no longer require a prescription to be eligible for reimbursement. Additionally, feminine care products are now also considered to be qualified medical expenses and are eligible for reimbursement.
Once the data systems used by retail merchants have been updated, these items may be purchased using your UT FLEX Debit Card. You may also submit receipts for these items directly to Maestro for reimbursement from available funds in your 2019-2020 HCRA.
These particular changes were made retroactive to include the entire 2020 calendar year. That means receipts for qualified items with dates of service beginning January 1, 2020, are eligible and may be submitted for reimbursement.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
April 17, 2020
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a response to the public health crisis and associated economic fallout in the wake of COVID-19, was signed into law on March 27, 2020.
The University of Texas System Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) has incorporated some of the features of the CARES Act into the UTSaver 403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) and the UTSaver 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) to help our participants get through the COVID-19 crisis.
THE CARES ACT DOES NOT APPLY TO THE TEACHER RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF TEXAS OR THE UT OPTIONAL RETIREMENT PROGRAM.
Enhanced Benefits Available for Medical Services Related to COVID-19
April 8, 2020
With the situation still evolving around COVID-19, The University of Texas System Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) has continued to look for additional ways to assist our members during this period of uncertainty. We are happy to share this news about enhanced medical benefits.
The UT SELECT and UT CONNECT plans will cover in-network medically necessary services at 100% for testing and treatment of COVID-19, including physician services, hospitalization, and emergency services. This means that members receiving medical care for COVID-19 from network providers and facilities should have no out-of-pocket costs. We hope all of you stay safe and healthy, but for our members and families who may need care during this unprecedented time, we hope this enhanced benefit offers some peace of mind.
This significant change in medical coverage is a qualifying mid-year status change event that would allow an eligible individual to add the medical plan. Contact your institution’s HR office for questions and/or assistance.
Prior Authorization Requirements Waived for Most Transfers to Post-Acute Care Facilities
April 7, 2020
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) is waiving prior authorization requirements for transfers to in-network, medically necessary alternative post-acute facilities until April 30, 2020. As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, BCBSTX will continue to evaluate whether the time period for this waiver needs to be extended.
During this time, providers will not be required to obtain prior authorization to transfer UT SELECT and UT CONNECT members from an inpatient hospital to an in-network medically appropriate, post-acute site of care such as long-term acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. This will help promote availability of acute care capacity for COVID-19 patients during this Public Health Emergency. It also allows members to continue to access medically necessary care.
PLEASE NOTE: Prior authorization will still be required if the transfer is for a behavioral health facility.
Telemedicine Services during COVID-19
March 18, 2020
The University of Texas Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) continues to look for ways to assist the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT members during this rapidly evolving situation. We have some good news to share.
Working with BCBSTX, the telehealth options available to our members will be temporarily expanding. Previously, telehealth procedures were excluded from benefits, but effective March 9, 2020, these procedure codes will allow benefits for both medical and behavioral health services during the COVID-19 situation. Some important details to note:
- BCBSTX is working on updating the Health Advocate resources to ensure accurate information is provided to members inquiring about the availability of telehealth services beyond MDLIVE.
- “Office visit” level benefits will apply to telehealth services rendered by any eligible network provider other than MDLIVE (MDLIVE is covered at 100%). Since members might be accessing services for medical conditions beyond COVID-19 based on their providers' ability to render the service, this measure will enable members to access care while maintaining social distancing.
- Telehealth services rendered by an out of network provider will apply out of network benefits.
As with any change of this significance, it might take time for the information to make its way to the individual provider billing offices. Therefore, we ask for your assistance and patience as BCBSTX works to share this information across their provider network.
For UT SELECT member questions regarding services and/or this benefit enhancement, call your Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Advocate at 866-882-2034.
For UT CONNECT, please contact the CONNECT customer service team at 888-399-8889.
Key Benefits Details
March 10, 2020
The University of Texas Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) is closely monitoring activity around the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are committed to assisting those who might be affected and helping our members and institutions stay informed about benefits related to COVID-19.
The following key details may be helpful for you and your family should you need care related to COVID-19:
Effective immediately, the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT plans will not require prior authorization and will waive member copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles associated with testing for COVID-19 when medically necessary and consistent with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance.
- With regard to treatment for COVID-19, UT SELECT and UT CONNECT will cover medically necessary services consistent with the terms of each plan, including physician services, hospitalization, and emergency services.
- A primary care physician copayment will apply for medically necessary treatment delivered to a patient who may be quarantined under CDC guidelines in a setting other than inpatient.
- For specific questions about your UT SELECT coverage, members should call your Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Advocate at 866-882-2034. For UT CONNECT, please contact the CONNECT customer service team at 888-399-8889.
- Virtual doctor visits through MDLIVE continue to be available with no out-of-pocket costs and can be used when appropriate. You can activate your account and set up an appointment online or contact MDLIVE customer service at 888-680-8646 for assistance.
- Any person experiencing illness should contact their doctor or MDLIVE.
- Should members need to access an early refill of prescription medication, they may do so through their UT SELECT and UT CONNECT prescription benefits. Express Scripts, our pharmacy benefit manager, has lifted the “refill too soon” limitations to accommodate early refills for prescription medications up to a 90-day supply.
- All other UT Benefits programs will continue to operate according to the plan specifications outlined here. This includes dental, vision, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, and Life Insurance. For disability and life insurance purposes, COVID-19 will be considered just like any other illness.
OEB and our business partners will continue to work together to ensure business continuity. Our primary goal continues to be that you and your family can rely on your UT Benefits to cover the care you need.
Please check with your institution for local information and policies related to COVID-19 that you may need to be aware of.