Carnegie Mellon University

Benefits and COVID-19

The following updates have been made to the CMU Medical Plans in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

COVID-19 Testing*

Testing is covered 100% for CMU employees and their dependents enrolled in CMU medical plans:

  • Active employee medical plans
  • Local 95 medical plan
  • Medicare Advantage Plans (Retiree Medical)

Testing guidelines:

  • Coverage applies to the diagnostic testing of COVID-19 as well as antibody testing.
  • There are currently no limits to the number of tests; however, the testing is based on medical necessity (diagnosis or suspicion of exposure to COVID-19).
  • You must have a physician referral for testing. Most testing sites are also by appointment only.
  • Please refer to the carrier links below for more information on COVID-19 testing and locations in your area.

*subject to change due to updates to CMS guidelines

Telemedicine and Virtual Medical Provider Visits**

Due to COVID-19, carriers are waiving member co-payment/cost share for telemedicine, telephonic and virtual provider visits (i.e., any non-physical visit with your medical provider including primary physician, pediatrician, specialists, etc.):

  • Visits do not need to be related to COVID-19 to have co-payments/cost share waived. 
  • Members should work with their existing provider to set up a visit via phone or virtual meeting service such as Zoom or FaceTime.

Carrier Information:

  • Aetna:
    • $0 co-payment for all telemedicine/virtual visits until March 31, 2021
  • Highmark:
    • Member co-payment/cost share waived on all telemedicine/virtual visits with in-network providers until March 31, 2021
  • UPMC Health Plan:
    • Member co-payment/cost share waived on all telemedicine/virtual visits with in-network providers until March 31, 2021

**Dates subject to change/extension

For more information from the CMU medical plan carriers, please refer to the COVID-19 resources listed on the plan websites:

CMU has worked with CVS Caremark to ensure that subscribers to the CMU Prescription Plans have uninterrupted and appropriate access to the medications they need.

  • Home delivery from CVS Pharmacy
    • Charges waived on one- to two-day home delivery of prescription medications.

For more information, please refer to CVS Caremark's Coronavirus webpage

As the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact continues to evolve, we are taking steps to provide assistance to CMU faculty and staff members with their Spending Account Plans:

Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (HCFSA)

  • In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the federal government passed the CARES Act which allows changes to Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (HCFSAs).
  • As a result, the CMU HCFSA plan has been updated to make over-the-counter drugs and medicines eligible for reimbursement from HCFSAs without a prescription. In addition, menstrual products are now considered a qualified medical expense.
  • These changes are effective for purchases made after December 31, 2019.
  • You can submit claims by logging in to Benefit Coordinators Corporation (BCC)’s My SmartCare Portal or through their My SmartCare Mobile App. Instructions [pdf] for accessing these tools, along with the FSA Reimbursement Request [pdf], can be found at Flexible Spending Accounts on the Human Resources website.

Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts (DCRA)

  • Changes to DCRAs in the middle of the plan year resulting from the closure of childcare centers or the inability of home childcare providers to attend to children due to COVID-19 can be allowed.
  • In the event that your dependent care expenses are affected by the above circumstances, you may contact the HR Service Center to request a change.
  • In order to be eligible, you must provide documentation of the facts and circumstances of your situation to ensure that the change falls within the permitted guidelines. 

Please be aware of a few key deadlines related to CARES Act provisions that are ending.

Retirement Loans

The CARES Act allows participants to request a suspension of loan repayments through December 30, 2020. Please note:

  • December 24 is the last day to request a suspension of loan repayments in order to meet the December 30 deadline. Requests must be submitted in good order by 1 p.m. (ET) through or the call center.
  • The requirement to resume loan repayments goes into effect as of January 2021. Starting in early December, affected participants will receive a letter 30 days in advance of the first payment in 2021 with a re-amortization schedule. 


The CARES Act allows participants to take a retirement plan/account withdrawal through December 30, 2020, without the 20% mandatory federal tax withholding or 10% early withdrawal penalty. University contributions are restricted for in-service distributions and the current plan rules still apply.

  • December 24 is the last day to request a withdrawal.
    • Forms must be received in good order by 1 p.m. (ET).
    • If using the automated platform, requests must be submitted in good order by 1 p.m. (ET).

Required Minimum Distributions

  • 2020 RMD cancellations must be submitted in good order by 4 p.m. ET on December 28.
  • December 30 is the last day to return a 2020 RMD as an indirect rollover. Requests must be submitted in good order by 4 p.m. ET. Participants are advised to confirm eligibility with a tax advisor.
  • Starting January 4, 2021, one-time RMD payments on the automated platform can be requested on MyTIAA or by calling TIAA.
  • 2021 rollovers will require RMDs to be forced out.
  • 2021 one-time RMDs not on the automated platform must be requested through forms.

See all key year-end processing deadlines for 2020If you have additional questions, please contact your TIAA representative or the Administrator Telephone Center at 88‌8-84‌2-77‌82. Consultants are available weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

PTO Rollover Exceptions

  • The Office of Human Resources has approved temporary exceptions to the university’s Paid Time Off Policy for PTO that normally would have rolled into a staff member’s bank of Reserve Sick Days from April 1, 2020 through July 1, 2021. Impacted staff members must use the affected PTO by December 31, 2021.