HealthEquity blog

CARES Act - Seeing the doctor without going to the doctor

Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), a $2 trillion stimulus bill to aid the recovery from COVID-19. Included in the bill is language that created a temporary safe-harbor for HSA-compatible health plans covering telemedicine.

Remote care services allow patients to see doctors without ever having to leave their homes. In the past, health plans that covered telemedicine prior to the member meeting their deductible meant these individuals could not contribute to their health savings account (HSA).

The CARES Act allows HSA-qualified health plans to cover telemedicine at any time and still let members contribute to their HSAs.

Why the change matters

A 2018 survey by Deloitte found that

  • 64% of patients point to convenience and access as important benefits of telemedicine
  • 57% of those who have not used telemedicine are willing to try it in the future
  • For physicians, the top three benefits are:
    • Improved patient access to care (66%)
    • Improved patient satisfaction (52%)
    • Staying connected with patients and their caregivers (45%)

That’s not all. A survey published in January 2019 by the American Journal of Managed Care found “62.6% of patients and 59% of clinicians reported no difference in ‘the overall quality of the visit’ and ‘a majority (52.5%) of clinicians reported higher efficiency of a virtual video visit.”

Telemedicine is becoming more a part of the healthcare system, and those with HSAs are now able to participate without losing the ability to contribute to their HSA.

what the changes mean for you

While telemedicine is an important part of the future of healthcare, it is also important today, especially as millions of people must remain at home due to COVID-19. The new safe-harbor in the CARES Act mean more people can use telemedicine services and not risk exposure to unnecessary health risks.

In addition, those members with HSAs who live in rural areas where doctors and hospital may not be as plentiful can now utilize plan-covered telemedicine without losing the ability to contribute more funds to their HSA. However, the telemedicine provision is temporary and effective for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021. So, these new telemedicine rules could apply to some plans through late 2022.

Nevertheless, the new safe-harbor in the CARES Act is a huge win for the many Americans with HSAs who want to use remote care services. HealthEquity is excited to help them explore the possibilities.

For more information on how the CARES Act impacts HealthEquity Members, click here.

For more information on how the CARES Act impacts HealthEquity Employers, click here.


Telehealth Health Equity


HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax, financial, or medical advice.




Topics: HSA, HSA questions, HSA spending

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