WAEPA Working To Accommodate Members Amid COVID-19 In New Ways


FALLS CHURCH, VA - As the U.S. is crossing some striking coronavirus infection benchmarks, Americans are rethinking their life plans when it comes to retirement, insurance, and budgeting.

A recent poll by CNN and SSRS shows that about half of Americans are reporting financial hardship due to the near-total shutdown of the American economy.

Recently, the Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies (WAEPA), a nonprofit association that provides Civilian Federal Employees with Group Term Life Insurance saw an uptick in the number of members reaching out to help navigate COVID-19 related concerns.

“One of the questions we are getting a lot is, ‘If I have a claim, will my family be covered because of COVID-19?’ and the answer is absolutely yes. It doesn’t matter if it’s because of COVID-19, if it’s something related to COVID-19, people are absolutely covered,” WAEPA CEO M. Shane Canfield told 104.7 WONK FM’s Jen Richer. “The second most common question we have is, ‘ Is there anything you can do for me on my payments?’ and the answer is yes, we have a number of things we can do, we will certainly work with you.”

The recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act by Congress requires most private health plans to cover COVID-19 testing. Some states and private insurance companies are adopting similar policies. Treatment coverage is a little more complicated.

WAEPA is trying to take some of the guesswork out of it for Civilian Federal Employees.

“State guidelines have gone into place around group insurance and a lot of states now have a 90 day, grace period, we are putting that in place, but beyond that, if people can just call us and we’ll work through it at an individual level. Even though we have 46,000 members on the plan, we still offer great service and we will give it the personal time that it needs,” Canfield said.

The nonprofit has been proactively reaching out to reassure members them through the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Last week, WAEPA offered a webinar hosted in partnership with the Center for Risk Communication and presented by Dr. Vincent Covello and Dr. Rendall Hyer, two seiner consultants to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We’ve been doing educational webinars for a long time, it fits right in with our mission to protect the health, welfare, and financial well-being of civilian federal employees, and by the way that mission has not changed since 1943,” Canfield said.

He also noted that it may seem counterintuitive, but as Feds are reevaluating their coverage, now may be a good time to switch from the federal government offered group life insurance plan, the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program.

“A couple of things happen when we are in times of high stress and this is not just federal employees, but all US citizens, all consumers in general. If there’s a period of high stress, people tend to stay in place, they don’t want to make changes, they don’t want to do anything different. Our argument to that is: saving money is always a good thing,” Canfield said.

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Jen Richer with M. Shane Canfield

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