As the global concern about the COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow, Powell is working diligently with its benefit partners to support you and your families during these difficult times. Below is important benefits information related to COVID-19 that you should be aware of. We’ll keep you informed on this webpage as changes occur. If you have questions, please call the Powell Benefits Center at 1-855-855-7610.




Where to Sign Up for the COVID Vaccine in the Houston Area

KHOU Channel 11’s website in Houston posted county-by-county guidance to register for the COVID vaccine here.

Where to Sign Up for the COVID Vaccine in Ohio
Ohio statewide vaccination locations can be found here.
Where to Sign Up for the COVID Vaccine in Illinois
Illinois statewide vaccination locations can be found here.
Legislated Changes to Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (HFSAs)

Legislated Changes to Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (HFSAs)

CARES Act changes to Health Flexible Spending Accounts (HFSAs)

  • OTC Medicines and Drugs: No RX Required
    • CARES Act eliminates the requirement for a prescription to reimburse an over-the-counter medicine or drug (Effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020)
  • Menstrual Care Products: Now Medical Expenses
    • CARES Act adds menstrual care products to qualifying expenses. Includes tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, or similar products (Effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020)

IRS issued Notice 2020-33 to increase 2020 Health Flexible Spending Account (HFSA) carryover limit

  • Increases the 2020 Health FSA carryover limit from $500 to $550.
Changes to Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DFSAs)

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSAs) Election Changes

There has been no legislated changes to DCFSAs, however there are existing rules that may assist DCFSA participants during this National Emergency.  The closing of daycares in response to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, may allow you to make adjustments to your Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) contributions.  You can enroll, cancel or change your DCFSA contributions based on:

  • cancellation or restart of care
  • an increase or decrease in cost
  • an increase or decrease in hours
  • a change of provider
  • if your child reaches age 13

You must be able to submit supporting documentation to substantiate the change.

SMM (COVID-19 Outbreak Period)

Date:                July 16, 2020

To:                   All Employee and Participants of the Powell Industries, Inc. Welfare Benefits Plan

Subject:           Relaxed deadlines for certain enrollments, claim submissions, appeals, and COBRA-related events

The federal authorities who regulate our welfare benefits plans recently issued guidance expanding your rights under those plans, particularly our healthcare plans.

As you might know, the plans impose a variety of deadlines by which plan enrollees must make certain requests for coverage, elect COBRA continuation coverage, pay for COBRA coverage, notify the plan about certain COBRA qualifying events (like divorce or legal separation), file claims for benefits, notify the plan of an appeal of a claim that had been denied in whole or in part, and similar notifications.

The recent guidance requires the plans to provide you with additional flexibility regarding these elections, notice, payments, etc. due to the coronavirus pandemic. When determining what your deadline for action is for these events, the plans must simply disregard the period from March 1, 2020, to the date that is 60 days after the coronavirus national emergency declaration expires. This period is called the “outbreak period.”

The outbreak period is disregarded for purpose of determining the deadline for the following elections, payments, and notices:

  • Your 30- or 60-day period to exercise HIPAA special enrollment rights.[1]
  • The 60-day period to elect COBRA continuation of coverage, following a loss of your employer-sponsored coverage due to specific COBRA qualifying events.[2]
  • Your 45-day grace period to make your first COBRA premium payment following the election of COBRA continuation coverage, as well as the normal 30-day grace periods for making monthly COBRA premium payments.[3]
  • The date by which you must notify the plan where you experience a COBRA qualifying event and are determined to have been disabled as of the date of that event or within the following 60 days.
  • The date by which you or a healthcare provider on your behalf must file a claim for benefits under the plan.
  • The date by which you must file an appeal after having a claim denied in whole or in part.
  • The date by which claimants must request external review after having certain medical claims denied in whole or in part.

Federal authorities have included several examples reflecting how disregarding the outbreak period operates to extend the time by which you have to make these elections, payments and notices. If you would like to review those examples, see the document at the link below.

Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak

Our welfare benefits plans to which the federal guidance applies are deemed amended to reflect these requirements, for as long as the requirements are in effect.

For more information related to how these extensions may affect your situation, contact the Powell Benefit Center at 855-855-7610.


Powell Corporate Benefits


[1] HIPAA special enrollment events generally include loss of eligibility for other coverage, or acquisition of a new dependent due to marriage, birth, adoption or placement for adoption.
[2] COBRA qualifying events include voluntary or involuntary termination of employment, reduction in hours below plan eligibility requirements, divorce or legal separation, death of a covered employee, and loss of dependent child status, if those events cause a loss of eligibility.
[3] Note that if during the “outbreak period” you are unable to make your COBRA premium payment by the normal deadline your COBRA coverage may temporarily lapse, subject to retroactive reinstatement if and when you later make the required premium payment, after the end of the outbreak period.  Once you make past-due premium payments within the extended deadline, coverage will be reinstated for the periods for which payment is made and any claims incurred during that period, for which payment was denied while your coverage had lapsed, will be reprocessed and paid in accordance with the terms of the plan. Note that if your initial COBRA premium payment is deferred until after the end of the outbreak period, the plan might require you – to the extent permitted by law – to make all back premium payments in order for your COBRA coverage to take effect.
Free Virtual ZOOM Fitness Classes for all BCBSTX Members

We have some great news to share with you!  Tivity Health (who administers BlueCross BlueShield’s Well onTarget® Fitness program) is introducing Prime® Live Virtual Classes, made available through Tivity’s Prime Network. Participants can enjoy a variety of live, full-length fitness classes hosted through ZOOM* from the comfort of home and at no additional cost.

**Classes are open to all BCBSTX members – you don’t have to be Fitness program member**

Classes include:

  • Boot Camp
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Strength training
  • Cardio-interval workouts and more

How does it work? The interactive sessions employ a fitness instructor who leads each class through a live video platform.

It’s easy to register. Participants go to this registration link and provide their name and email address. Once enrolled, they can RSVP for classes of interest and will receive an email confirmation with a ZOOM link to access the class shortly after registering.

The Fitness Program is provided by Tivity HealthTM, an independent contractor that administers the Prime Network of fitness locations. The Prime Network is made up of independently owned and operated fitness locations.

Zoom is a third-party provider and is not owned or operated by Tivity Health or its affiliates. Users who access Prime Live Virtual classes are subject to Zoom’s terms and Conditions. Users must have internet service to access Prime Live Virtual classes. Internet service charges are the responsibility of the users.

Powell and BCBS to Cover Cost of Coronavirus Tests

Employees and dependents covered under one of the Powell medical plans will have access to coronavirus (COVID-19) testing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and prescribed by health providers.  Effective immediately, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) will not require preauthorization and will not apply members’ copays or deductibles for testing to diagnose COVID-19 when medically necessary and consistent with the CDC guidelines.  Please note that this waiver of deductible and coinsurance applies to the test to diagnose the virus.  Coverage for facility charges including urgent care facilities and freestanding emergency rooms are consistent with the terms of the plan and are subject to deductible and coinsurance if applicable.

With regard to treatment for COVID-19, the Powell plans cover medically necessary health benefits, including physician services, hospitalization and emergency services consistent with the terms of the member’s benefit plan. 

Members should always call the number on their ID card for answers to their specific benefit questions.

Prescription Early Refill

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has implemented the necessary steps to allow members to receive an early fill of their specialty or non-specialty medication for the same quantity as the last prescription filled. Members can contact the pharmacy directly to ask for an early fill. There is currently no end date for this exception policy. All pharmacy safe practice measures, as well as prescribing and dispensing laws, will remain. This includes completing all necessary UM (or prior authorization) reviews before dispensing the medication and filling specialty prescriptions for only a 30-day supply. Please note the following:

  • The drug list will still apply.
  • If a local Walgreens offers delivery, they are waiving fees at the moment.
  • Customer Service is prepared to serve members
  • This exception will apply to all members

We also encourage members to use their 90-day supply fill benefits for non-specialty medications at select retail pharmacies or home delivery (mail order).


Virtual Doctors’ Visits – Updated

Virtual doctors visits from the comfort of your home or office!

As a reminder, employees and dependents enrolled in any of the Powell medical plans have access to virtual doctors visits through MDLive.  The cost for a visit is only $25 and can save you a trip to the doctor’s office.  Click here for more information on MDLive.

We have identified other virtual care providers in the states where the largest numbers of our employees reside.  You do not need to be insured under one of Powell’s medical plans to be able to use these providers.  I have listed the provider with the cost for the service and a link to their website for more information and to register.  If you are in a state not listed, there may still be virtual care resources available to you and recommend you look to see if your local hospital system offers virtual care.


Mercy Health – Virtual Visit Now – $49

Rush University Medical Center – E-Visits – $30


Summa Health – E-Visit $29; Audio/Video Visit – $49

Aultman – AultmanNow Urgent Care – $59


Memorial Hermann eVisit – $25

Methodist – Virtual Urgent Care – $20

COVID-19 Testing Site Locator

Find a COVID-19 test center near you, visit

To find an in-network doctor or testing site, log in to Blue Access for Members

COVID-19 Mental Wellness Tools

BCBSTX partner, Livongo Behavioral Health, is offering a COVID-19 specific version of its myStrength digital behavioral health self-service tool for free to members and any visitor accessing resources until the end of July. 

This tool includes 25+ education modules about mental health and evidence-based coping skills.  Topics range from loneliness to managing time at home with children. Users can expect a variety of materials presented in short, 2-3-minute lessons. 

Click here to be redirected to the Livongo website. 


Unum COVID-19 Leave of Absence – How to file a claim
Click on the link below to file a COVID-19 Leave of Absence claim through Unum:

Unum COVID-19 Response – Click Here.

Retirement Plans

CARES Act as it pertains to Retirement Plans
Congress has passed new legislation to help ease the financial impact of COVID-19.  The recent CARES Act provides relief to plan participants that are financially impacted by COVID 19.  Powell has elected to adopt the Hardship Withdrawal and Loan Deferment provisions of the Act.  To qualify for one of these options, one or more of the following must apply to the participant:

  1. The participant is diagnosed with the virus SARS-Co-V-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  2. The participant’s spouse or dependent is diagnosed with such virus or disease by such a test, or
  3. The participant experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to such virus or disease, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to such virus or disease, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to such virus or disease, or other factors as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Here are the specifics around the provisions:

  1. Hardship Withdrawal – Qualifying participants can take a distribution of up to $100,000 from their 401(k) Plan without incurring the 10% early withdrawal penalty.  Eligible distributions can be taken up to December 31, 2020.  Individuals can elect to pay the federal income tax on the distribution over 3 years or have the option to repay the distribution back to the Plan within a 3-year period.  Participants can request the withdrawal by logging onto their Fidelity account at, or by calling Fidelity at 800-835-5095.
  2. Loan Deferment – Qualifying participants can choose to suspend, or defer, their 401(k) loan payments on any existing loan or new loans taken through December 31, 2020. Individuals who choose to have their loan payments suspended, will still accrue interest during the time of suspension. In January 2021, the remaining loan balance plus any accrued interest will be reamortized and you will have a new loan payment amount. The term of the loan will be extended by the number of months it was suspended. You may request a loan deferment by contacting Fidelity at 800-835-5095.

If you have questions, you may contact Fidelity Participant Services at 800-835-5095, or the Powell Benefits Dept. at 855-855-7610

Stock Market Swings

Do stock market swings have you wondering if you should be doing something?

With recent global health concerns – and their effect on the markets – you may have questions or concerns about your retirement savings.  Fidelity can help you navigate this uncertainty and share what you can do to feel more confident when making decisions for both the short and the long term.  Stay informed.