Last updated: April 2, 2020   

FAQ to Help You Respond to Clients’ Questions

Updated on a regular basis


This FAQ will be updated on a regular basis and we encourage you to check back often. Look for a date after the individual question to see when it was posted or updated.

How is Tufts Health Plan supporting members who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19? (3/31/20)

Since mid-March, our Nurse Care Managers have conducted outreach to more than 1,000 members who are identified as high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Our Nurse Care Managers provide support and education, answer members’ questions, and help coordinate any necessary care. Those at high risk include older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These conditions can include chronic lung disease and moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, being immunocompromised including cancer treatment, and others. 

How can I receive email updates from Tufts Health Plan? (3/31/20) 

We have a newsletter sign up form on our website that will add you to our distribution list for our newsletters as well as other important communications from us.

Since businesses are now working remotely, how are you handling physical paper during this time? (3/31/20)

Please follow these instructions for submitting payments, enrollment changes, new business and other paperwork.

What is the Paycheck Protection Program and what does it mean for small employers? (3/31/20)

The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which President Trump signed into law on March 27, 2020. The Cares Act has two loan programs – one for small businesses and one for larger businesses – which are designed to help those currently struggling because of the Coronavirus.

The Paycheck Protection Program provides $350 billion to support federally guaranteed loans for small employers with 500 or fewer employees, as well as those that meet current Small Business Administration size standards. The size of the loans would equal 250% of the employer’s average monthly payroll. The maximum loan amount would be $10 million. These loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls and employee benefits during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterwards.

For more information on this program please see these helpful resources:

There is a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) offered by the Connector. For FI employers, will there be a special election period offered? (3/20/2020; updated 3/31/2020)

Tufts Health Plan reads the latest DOI Bulletin as creating a Special Enrollment Period for individuals that are currently uninsured, not the group market.

In the employer group space, a qualifying life event (as defined by the IRS) is required to enroll in coverage off-cycle. There has been no guidance from regulators that this will be changing given COVID-19. We will continue to honor any of the identified qualifying life events, such as loss of current coverage, changes in household, etc.

For non-group, the SEP will now be open through May 25. Also for non-group Connector members who haven't paid their premium, they will not be termed in April.

If my employees are not working the required hours to qualify for health care coverage, are furloughed or are temporarily laid off, will they lose their health plan coverage? (3/20/2020)

Until further notice, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tufts Health Plan will permit employers to treat as health plan-eligible those employees as of 3/15/20 whose hours have been reduced or those employees as of 3/15/20 who have been furloughed or temporarily laid off. Tufts Health Plan will rely on employers to identify the persons who are eligible to be offered health coverage and employers must continue to remit payment to Tufts Health Plan of all monthly premiums for such persons. These changes will not apply to newly enrolling employees.

What are the rules around non-payment of premium? (3/20/2020)

For Massachusetts Business:

  • Premiums are due on the first day of coverage period.

  • Late payment reminder letters go out 7 days after due date.

  • Group term letters go out 45 days after due date.

  • Member term letters go out 50 days after term date with offer of 60-day temporary coverage retroactive to the termination date if member pays.

  • Group is terminated at day 60, retroactive 60 days to last paid date.

For Rhode Island and New Hampshire Business:

  • Premiums are due on first day of coverage period, which is on or before the 1st of the month.

  • Both RI and NH allow a 30-day grace period for premium to be paid.

  • Late payment reminder letters go out 5-7 days after due date.

  • Group term letters go out 23-25 days after due date.

  • Member term letters go out 30-35 days after due date.

  • Group is terminated back to end of 30-day grace period.

Will you offer a grace period for premium payments during the COVID-19 outbreak? (3/20/2020, updated 4/2/2020)

Tufts Health Plan will, on a case-by-case basis, extend the statutory grace period, one time, for an additional 30-days for fully-insured groups in MA, RI and NH. Requests must be made in writing and signed by the employer. Consideration will be given solely as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the company’s ability to pay timely premium whether the group has received a PPP loan pursuant to the CARES Act, and the commitment to pay during the extended grace period.

Will Tufts Health Plan waive enrollment waiting periods? (3/20/2020)

This as an employer decision. The law permits employers to select between 0-90 days. We advise employers to consult your broker, consultant and/or legal counsel on the risk of waiving waiting periods mid-year. Self-insured customers should also consult their stop-loss carriers to ensure that such waiver is permitted.

When will employees who are terminated get coverage through end of the month? (3/20/2020)

Employee coverage ends the date we are notified to terminate the employee by the group. For example, if the employer instructs us to terminate as of 1/15, coverage ends that day.  If the employer instructs us to terminate as of 1/31, coverage ends that day. Employees would be eligible for COBRA or state continuation of coverage if they are terminated, or they can seek coverage under a state exchange plan. Depending upon their financial situation, terminated employees may be eligible for a subsidized plan or Medicaid.

For employer groups that close permanently, their employees are not eligible for COBRA. However, depending on the state in which coverage was written, their terminated employees may be eligible for individual coverage on state exchanges or individual coverage on the same plan offered through their former employer in RI and NH at a cost of up to 102% of monthly premium. Depending upon their financial situation, terminated employees may be eligible for a subsidized plan or Medicaid.