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COVID-19 Impact on Benefits

The University of Rochester Office of Total Rewards along with our vendors are closely monitoring COVID-19. We are committed to employees receiving appropriate testing, treatment, and resources during this unsettled time. Listed below are the benefit enhancements for members.

Health Insurance

COVID-19 Tests: In response to new state and federal guidelines, effective January 15, Excellus BCBS will cover over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at no cost for many members. For more information, visit the Excellus BCBS website on the many ways to obtain no-cost tests and eligibility details. Additionally, all Americans are able to order free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests through the federal government website, covidtests.gov.

Active Employees

Employees and their covered dependents enrolled in the University Health Care Plan are eligible for certain COVID-19 services at no cost share. Our health care administrator, Excellus, will not reimburse charges for non-medically required COVID-19 testing. This includes most asymptomatic testing and mandated traveling testing. For questions regarding coverage of COVID-19, reach out to Excellus at 1-800-659-2808.

During the pandemic, virtual visits including virtual mental health services are covered at the same cost share as in-person office visits. Depending on the service, members on the PPO plan may pay a copay and members on the HSA-Eligible Plan pay the full cost of the service up to their deductible and then would be responsible for the coinsurance. If an employee on the PPO plan receives virtual or in-person mental health services from Behavior Health Partners (BHP), then they are covered by the plan at 100%. Employees on the HSA-eligible plan that receive virtual or in-person mental health services from Behavioral Health Partners (BHP) will pay the full cost of the visit up to their Tier 1 deductible and then be covered at 100%. For more information on employee coverage based off of the service, refer to the Health Comparison Chart.

Additionally, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security) Act, passed by Congress, has expanded the list of covered expenses that you may use your HSA or Health and/or Limited Purpose FSA on. The expanded list in the legislation is retroactive to 1/1/2020. Qualified expenses now include: over-the-counter medicine without needing a doctor’s prescription and all feminine hygiene products.

Retired Employees

Retirees that are enrolled in Medicare Supplemental Plans through Via Benefits should contact their individual carrier at the number listed on the membership card with inquiries regarding covered services.

Non-Medicare eligible retirees and their covered dependents enrolled in the University retiree coverage with Excellus are eligible for certain COVID-19 services at no cost share. Our health care administrator, Excellus, will not reimburse charges for non-medically required COVID-19 testing. This includes most asymptomatic testing and mandated traveling testing. For questions regarding coverage of COVID-19, reach out to Excellus at 1-800-659-2808.

Additional Resources and Information

VSP Vision Care

VSP members could access essential medical eye care services for sudden vision changes or loss, eye trauma, pink eye, etc. Members can also use VSP benefits towards replacement glasses or contact lenses. Learn more and/or contact VSP at 1-800-877-7195.

Vacation accrual

In light of work disruptions caused by the crisis, the University wants to ensure that faculty and staff maintain access to earned vacation time so that it is available when they are able to use it. The following changes have been made to the accrual policy:

  • At the beginning of the first full pay period on January 1, 2021, a maximum of one and a half year’s (1.5 year’s) accrual may be carried forward. During the year, vacation accruals will continue.
  • At the beginning of the first full pay period on January 1, 2022, a maximum of one and a quarter year’s (1.25 year’s) accrual may be carried forward.  During the year, vacation accruals will continue.
  • At the beginning of the first full pay period on January 1, 2023, the University will return to the standing policy which allows for a maximum of one year’s accrual to be carried forward.

One-time vacation payout option: To ensure that staff benefit from unused vacation time in what has been a unique year, the University will implement a one-time Vacation Pay-Out Program at the end of 2021. All eligible staff through Pay Grade 98 will automatically receive a pay-out of up to 60 hours of unused vacation time above 1.25 of the employee’s annual vacation accrual. See the full announcement for more details and FAQs.

Unemployment

As a furloughed employee, you may qualify for unemployment in NYS. In order to apply for this benefit, please contact the New York State Department of Labor.

The best way to apply is online. The Department of Labor has a streamlined application process. This University of Rochester unemployment guide and this University filing for unemployment video can help you understand how to apply.

Information about the University of Rochester that is needed for unemployment application:

  • Address: University of Rochester, Employee Records
    910 Genesee Street, Box 278829, Rochester NY 14611-3847
  • Phone Number: (585) 275-8747
  • NYS Employer Registration Number is 0451219
  • Federal Identification Number (FEIN) is 160743209

You should receive notice from the Department of Labor within 72 hours after your application is submitted. If you have not, please check to see if you have received a claim number. More information is available here. It can take 2 to 4 weeks or more to receive your unemployment benefits.

If you are approved for unemployment insurance benefits, you will be required to update the Department of Labor each week with your work status and demonstrate you still meet the eligible criteria. This is called “certifying for benefits.” You can provide your weekly certification online or by phone. Certification needs to be completed after your first week of furlough and each subsequent week.

If you receive an email or document through the post office indicating that you have applied for unemployment and you have not, it could be a case of fraud where someone has applied for unemployment using your name and information. To report a potential case of fraud please see the Department of Labor unemployment website.  Please also alert Kathy Miner at HR Admin Services at kathy.miner@rochester.edu. Upon notice of a potential case of fraud the HR office will monitor claims we receive as well.

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