Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Use of Mental Health & Wellness Apps Skyrockets

Employers who offer mental health platforms as part of their benefits package are seeing soaring use as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the United States.

Russ Glass, CEO of mental health platform Ginger, told Employee Benefit News “we’re seeing significant increases in sessions for therapy and psychiatry.”

According to an industry survey, about 53% of employers are offering additional mental health programs as a result of the pandemic. Business Insider reports that large companies such as Starbucks, Target, and Salesforce have all bumped up their mental health offerings in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, apps such as Headspace, which offer meditation guidance, began spiking record download and usage numbers in late March. In response to unprecedented usage, some apps are helping people connect with live classes, instructors, and even celebrity guests.

Telemedicine Awareness Struggle to Reach Employees

Although telemedicine has been part of many benefits providers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent survey shows that employees are not getting the message.

According to HealthInsurance.com, who conducted the survey, more than 70% of respondents had not received correspondence from their health insurance company about telemedicine options. Slightly fewer also reported that their regular doctor had not contacted them regarding telemedicine.

This study shows a clear opportunity exists for HR professionals to educate their teams and connect them with telemedicine options, especially as many healthcare plans have boosted the availability of remote and virtual doctor’s visits.

Insurance Carriers Adjust Benefits Eligibility in Response to COVID-19

Industry organization LIMRA has found that a majority of insurance carriers are changing up business-as-usual eligibility requirements as workers find themselves without regular hours during the pandemic.

With as many as seven in ten U.S. workers receiving their health benefits from the workplace, carriers are taking steps to help prevent a mass loss of healthcare benefits in the face of a global health emergency.

LIMRA research finds that 42% of carriers are choosing to continue coverage for a specified period of time for employees who are laid-off or furloughed, and 22% are allowing continuing coverage on a case-by-case basis. Some benefits providers are also smoothing the path for benefits reinstatement when work resumes. Nearly all benefits providers are extending grace periods for premiums, helping workers afford to hang on to healthcare in a time of great uncertainty.