Tufts Health Plan Launches Employee Relief Fund

For employees whose families are financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

May 13, 2020  

Fund allows employees to apply for non-taxable grants when dealing with an unforeseen economic hardship, such as a family member’s job loss

Watertown, MA – Tufts Health Plan has launched an Employee Relief Fund to support employees who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and are experiencing financial hardship, including the loss of a job by someone in their household. Eligible employees can apply for $1,000 grants to cover essential living expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities and certain medical costs.

“Although the ongoing pandemic touches us all, it affects each of us differently, whether physically, emotionally or financially,” said Tom Croswell, Tufts Health Plan president and CEO. “Our employees are extraordinary, and in these challenging times, are stepping up every day for each other, our members and the communities we serve. We know that some colleagues and their families are facing financial hardships and it is our hope that this fund can in some way help those who are in need. The fund underscores how we, as a company and as people, take care of each other.”

The fund, established in partnership with America’s Charities, was seeded with an initial $100,000 investment from Tufts Health Plan, in addition to personal donations from every member of the company's senior management group. Employees of Tufts Health Plan have also made contributions to the Fund, which are being matched by Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Tufts Health Plan is covering the administrative costs of online credit card donations so that 100 percent of a contribution goes directly to the fund.

The establishment of an employee relief fund is just one example of how Tufts Health Plan continues to support its employees, members, front line provider partners, employer clients, and the community.

Benefit enhancements for members

  • Waiving treatment, testing and counseling costs for members fighting the coronavirus, including copays, deductibles and coinsurance.
  • Waiving out-of-pocket costs for telehealth visits, including telephone consultations.
  • Members can see out-of-network providers in the event they cannot easily find an in-network provider to provide timely services for treatment of the coronavirus.
  • Early refills of drug prescriptions prior to the expiration date so members can have a supply on hand.

For providers

  • Working with providers to address their concerns about payments and advocating for federal funding for providers in need.
  • Putting in place administrative flexibilities such as waiving prior authorizations and pre-certification for emergent diagnoses and treatments related to the coronavirus.
  • Relaxed timing requirements for claims submission and appeals for our provider groups in recognition of reduced staff.
  • Compensating providers at 100 percent of the in-office rate for telehealth.
  • Hosting weekly webinars to answer their questions and concerns in real time.

For employers

  • Helping employers keep their employees covered, including those furloughed or temporarily laid off, by extending coverage.
  • Extending premium payment periods for employers who need a bit more time to make payment.
  • Advocating for direct premium assistance for employers so they can afford to continue to provide employer sponsored coverage.

Community

  • Committing $1 million through Tufts Health Plan Foundation to support those affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut. This funding supports organizations providing meals and other services to older people and those who are at risk, responds to inequities in housing and basic human needs, and bolsters collaborative regional responses. The Foundation is also providing current grantees flexibility to redeploy existing funds to address emerging community needs.
  • Providing nonprofits in the region with much-needed supplies, including diapers, hand sanitizer packs and towels.
  • Matching employee donations two to one. In total, $190,000 has been donated through the match program. 

For employees

  • In addition to the Employee Relief Fund, increasing pay of essential employees who are needed onsite.