Until further notice, our office is closed to the public but we are still open for phone calls and claims processing. All claims should be submitted electronically.
We have received many questions in our office over the last couple of days regarding Group Health and Disability Benefits in relation to the COVID-19 virus, this document is intended to answer some of those frequently asked questions. If you have questions that are not answered in this document, please call our office at 1-800-667-4712 or 306-763-4712.
Is COVID-19 covered by Short-term Disability?
In short, yes, however there are changes to the process of applying for the benefit AND the approval of the claim will still be based on the information contained within the application. Completing the application does not mean that the disability is approved, the claim will still be adjudicated by Blue Cross.
How has the process of application changed?
To mitigate the influx of individuals to medical clinics and hospitals, Blue Cross is following the direction of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) and using the “Confirmation of Illness” form for those that are applying for Short-term disability due to the COVID-19 virus. This application process does not require an Attending Physician Statement (APS) form to be completed at first, however, there will still be a phone interview required.
What is the claim date for the COVID-19 application?
When reviewing a claim Blue Cross must determine a date of disability, a number of factors go into establishing this date. They will consider the last day work, date first symptoms appeared, first day of missing work, date advised by medical staff to quarantine, etc. Blue Cross will then establish the date of disability based on the information they receive at the time of claim.
How long will it take to process the COVID-19 Disability application?
This is a difficult question to answer because it is dependent on the number of claims that are being submitted to Blue Cross, but Blue Cross is committed to processing applications as quickly and efficiently as they can.
How long will it take for the Employee to receive the COVID-19 Disability benefit?
If approved, the disability benefit should be available to you within a week of the approval. In normal circumstances this is about 5 business days. We strongly recommend that disability applications include the electronic fund payment form (if you have not already provided banking information to Blue Cross), as cheques will take longer to receive in the mail.
How long will an Employee receive the COVID-19 Disability benefit?
If approved, the disability benefit will be paid for 14 days. If the number of days is more than 14 days, additional information and process will be required to be followed.
Will the Employer know that a COVID-19 application has been made by an employee?
Yes. The employer will still be required to complete their employer statement and job description forms for the disability application. As in normal situations, medical information is confidential information and WILL NOT be shared with employers.
How does an Employer pay an employee while the COVOID-19 application is being adjudicated?
To ensure that the member continues to have an income during their absence from work and prior to the application being adjudicated, the employer should develop a policy that will outline how the employee will be paid. An employer may allow an employee to use personal paid sick leave or vacation, but it should be clearly outlined in the policy that if approved for the COVID-19 Disability benefit, a repayment of that previous pay should be arranged. As in usual disability situations, if an employee is receiving earnings from their employer while on an approved disability benefit those earnings are deducted from the disability benefit payment.
OUT OF PROVINCE TRAVEL BENEFITS
I am traveling out of province or internationally, will I have emergency medical coverage?
While the FNIS Plan does not have an exclusion in relation to travel warnings, all travelers should be aware that there are health risks when you travel, and we would advocate to follow the advice provided by the Government of Canada.
EMPLOYEE FAMILY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
There has been some anxiety created with the current COVID-19 situation. Homewood Health will continue to offer counselling services during this time. In order to continue providing service, but to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus, they will be offering telephonic sessions until the spread of the virus has slowed and the guidance from trusted sources reverts to normal.