IRS Announces the End of COVID-19 Treatment Without Deductible Requirement

06/28/2023 Written by: Nathanael M. Alexander, Esq.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many unique rules pertaining to health plans, many of which have now sunset. The latest pandemic-related guidance to go away is the special rule that enabled high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for plan enrollees prior to them fulfilling their minimum deductible amount.

In Notice 2023-37, the IRS announced an official deadline for the expiration of this relief that was first described in Notice 2020-15, which we blogged about at the time. Notice 2023-37 applies a definitive conclusion to this relief, stating that it will only go through December 31, 2024. As a result, for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2025, an HDHP will no longer be able to offer any sort of COVID-19 testing and/or treatment at a reduced cost if the plan’s minimum deductible has not first been satisfied. Further, non-calendar year plans ending in 2024 will not be able to extend relief past January 1, 2025, i.e., an April 1 plan would see their relief conclude on March 31, 2024 since they would be unable to push this further than January 1, 2025.

This ultimately signifies a return to pre-pandemic “normalcy” for the treatment of HDHPs, with the IRS citing in their decision-making the respective conclusions of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and national emergency (NE) periods.

Notice 2023-27 goes on to mention that if the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) decides to one day recommend COVID-19 testing with an “A” or “B” rating then that testing will be considered and treated as preventive care for HDHP purposes. Since the USPSTF has yet to make this recommendation, there are no considerations to be made here at this time.

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