Frequently Asked Questions

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COVID-19 Vaccine For Employers

Q1. When can my employees receive their COVID-19 vaccines?

Priority for vaccines has been determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawaii State Department of Health (HDOH). View the Executive Summary of the Vaccination Plan here.

Recommendations from the Hawaii COVID‐19 Vaccine Allocation and Prioritization Working Group in conjunction with HDOH subject matter experts were used to identify the population groups below. Strong consideration was given to CDC Guidance and adherence to ACIP recommendations (See Figure ES‐6: Vaccine Prioritization Phases).

Source: Hawaii COVID-19 Executive Summary of the Vaccination Plan

For the most detailed and up-to-date information, please see hawaiicovid19.com.

Q2. How can my employees get the vaccine?

Those who meet the criteria for each phase will be able to get the vaccine through any approved COVID-19 vaccine provider, as supplies allow.

Q3. I have an employee who is a kupuna and qualifies for the COVID-19 vaccine but they are uncomfortable with the online registration system. How else can they make an appointment?

The HDOH has a new service for kupuna that simplifies the COVID-19 vaccination registration process. View the HDOH news release here.

  • Seniors or family caregivers can call 2-1-1 to reach Aloha United Way’s team of trained specialists. This service is available seven days a week for those age 65 and older. Call 2-1-1 for personalized assistance in navigating the registration process and securing appointments. The team can also help eligible individuals arrange for transportation to a vaccination provider.
  • Aloha United Way’s 2-1-1 team is responsible for the initial intake process. Information is then securely electronically transferred to the St. Francis Healthcare System call center team. St. Francis will follow up with kupuna who have called AUW’s 2-1-1 within 24 to 48 hours.

Q4. May I require my employees to take the vaccine?

For more information, please contact your own legal counsel.

Q5. Will there be a co-pay?

No. There is no co-pay to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, even from an out-of-network provider. As with the flu shot, this critical vaccine will be provided at $0 co-pay.

Q6. Could UHA set-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics at my organization like is often done with flu shots?

As of this time, we do not anticipate setting up vaccine clinics in our members’ place of business because of a number of unprecedented challenges, including requirements for storage and temperature monitoring equipment, as well as other issues.

Q7. I have concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. How can I know that it is safe?

The FDA has approved the COVID-19 vaccines. For more information, please see cdc.gov.

Q8. Where can I learn more about COVID-19 and vaccine developments?

For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.

Q9. Where can I learn more about Hawaii’s vaccination plans?

Please see the HDOH at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine.

An executive summary of the State of Hawai‘i’s draft COVID-19 vaccination plan is available here or view the full draft plan here.

COVID-19 Testing: Stay up to date with the latest CDC guidelines

Q1. What if my employees have been in close contact with a COVID-19 infected co-worker?

If your employee has been in close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, whether they are fully vaccinated or not, they should first be evaluated by their healthcare provider and be tested for COVID-19 if indicated to do so.

Q2. Does UHA cover COVID-19 testing of those who are asymptomatic?

UHA will cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing when the test is, at the time of service, in accordance with updated CDC guidelines. Coverage is subject to change contingent upon evolving CDC guidelines.  UHA will not cover non-diagnostic testing.

Q3. Under what circumstances should my employees obtain a COVID-19 test?

The CDC recommends the following individuals should obtain COVID-19 diagnostic testing:

  1. People who have symptoms of COVID-19 who are fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine should first be evaluated by their healthcare provider and be tested for COVID-19 if indicated to do so.
  2. People without symptoms of COVID-19 who are not fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine:
    • who have been in close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, should first be evaluated by their healthcare provider and be tested for COVID-19 if indicated to do so.
    • who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings.
    • who have been asked or referred to get tested by their school, workplace, healthcare provider, state, tribal, local, or territorial health department.

Please review the remaining questions and answers as to whether UHA will provide coverage for a COVID-19 test in specific situations.

Q4. Does UHA cover employer requested COVID-19 testing or testing for employment purposes?

No. Testing requested by employers or testing to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as an employee “return to work” program),or testing for employment purposes are not covered by UHA plans. This aligns with UHA’s Medical Benefits Guide (MBG) and the guidance recently issued by the federal tri- agencies (U.S. departments of: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury).

Eligibility and Premiums

What is ARPA?

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed by President Biden in March 2021. It includes a number of provisions designed to assist workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does ARPA affect COBRA or impact my company?

Among the provisions of this new law is a COBRA premium subsidy that pays for 100% of the applicable COBRA premium for eligible individuals for coverage periods beginning April 1, 2021 and ending September 30, 2021.

If your group health plan is subject to COBRA, there are new COBRA notice requirements for employers and additional COBRA election opportunities for assistance-eligible individuals starting April 1, 2021.

How can I find out more about ARPA’s COBRA subsidy and this new law?

Every employer’s situation is unique, so you must consult with your business and/or legal counsel for specific advice for your company. Please note that when contacted by any members who will be impacted by this new law, we are directing them back to their former employers. Please contact your former employer.

We also suggest that employers check the U.S. Department of Labor website regularly for updates should they become available.

I may need to furlough my employees or reduce their work hours. Can I continue to provide health coverage to my employees if they fall below the minimum required hours for eligibility?

Yes, UHA will allow for continuation of coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact your Client Services Liaison or Coordinator at (808) 532-4000, ext. 358 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 358 or email [email protected].

Can the 4-week waiting period be waived for employees who re-enroll at the end of a furlough or if they are rehired?

Yes, UHA will waive waiting-period requirements for members who were furloughed or displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but then later return to work. Please contact your Client Services Liaison or Coordinator for details: (808) 532-4000, ext. 358 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 358 or email [email protected].

Can I change my medical plan to reduce costs?

Depending on your regulatory plan status, you can change medical plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please keep in mind that the change may increase out-of-pocket expenses for your employees. Also, please note this is a process that does take some time; UHA must approve the change in plans and be given time to make the change. We recommend at least 60 days to properly execute the change and for you to properly notify your employees.

Can I make temporary changes to my drug, vision and dental riders to reduce costs?

Please contact your Client Services Liaison or Coordinator to determine if your plan status will allow for these changes. Depending on your regulatory plan status, you may be able to make changes to your drug, vision and dental riders. We are here to guide you as current regulations may not permit the exclusion of certain riders. Call us at (808) 532-4000, ext. 358 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 356 or email [email protected].

What if I cannot pay my premiums by the first of the month?

Because health plan coverage begins on the 1st of the month, Hawaii law requires premium payments to be made by that date to avoid a lapse in coverage.

If you anticipate a delay in making a premium payment, please contact one of our Billing Representatives immediately to discuss your alternatives.

UHA is required to give companies 10-day advance notice that a lapse in coverage will occur if payment is not received within the notice period. Again, if you do anticipate a delay in payment or receive a notice of impending termination of your coverage, please call us immediately to discuss payment options. We recognize that the current COVID-19 situation calls for difficult decisions; we want to work with you as every organization is facing different circumstances.

Call us at (808) 532-4000, ext. 353 or toll free 1-(800) 458-4600, ext. 353 or email billing@uhahealth.com.

Where can I find information on federal and state relief funds for small businesses?

The CARES Act was signed into federal law on March 27, 2020, to provide billions of dollars in relief for American workers and small businesses. It was designed to offer multiple funding options for those seeking relief.

This act established new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak and provide several Coronavirus relief options:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program – An SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
  2. EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) Emergency Advance – This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  3. SBA Express Bridge Loan – Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  4. SBA Debt Relief – The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, please visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

Beginning May 18, 2020, the City and County of Honolulu launched a COVID-19 reimbursement program for small businesses called the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund. Please click on the link for more details.

Local applications for CARES funding can be found at the following:

We recommend that you discuss these programs with your financial and/or tax professional to determine which programs might be the best option for you and your business.

Additional Resources

What mental health resources are available if I or my employees experienced mental or emotional hardship during the pandemic?

The HDOH developed a new program, Kū Makani—The Hawai‘i Resiliency Project, offering dedicated crisis counseling to callers facing emotional fallout related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Kū Makani has an array of services to help residents experiencing anxiety, depression, panic or just feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of the pandemic.
  • This is a FREE service.
  • To reach a trained Kū Makani counselor, call the Hawai’I CARES
    • hotline: Oahu – (808) 832-3100
    • Neighbor Islands: Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii – 1 (800) 753-6879 Kū Makani crisis counseling hours:
      • 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Monday-Friday
      • 9:00a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Visit the Kū Makani website and social media for detail about the program, services, upcoming events, and island-specific resources: kumakani.org
  • For non-pandemic counseling and services, including crisis support, mental health resources and substance use treatment services, you may always call the Hawai‘i CARES hotline 24/7 at 1 (800) 753- 6879 or text “ALOHA” to 741741.