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New IRS Guidance Impacting Cafeteria Plan Election Changes and FSA Grace Periods and Rollovers

May 13 - Posted at 3:56 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This week the IRS released two new sets of rules impacting Section 125 Cafeteria Plans.  Notice 2020-33 provides permanent rule changes that include an increase in the amount of unused benefits that Health FSA plans may allow plan participants to rollover from one plan year to the next.  Notice 2020-29 provides temporary rules designed to improve employer sponsored group health benefits for eligible employees in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  The relief provided under each notice is optional for employers. Employers who choose to take advantage of any of the offered plan options will be required to notify eligible employees and will eventually be required to execute written plan amendments.

Notice 2020-33 modifies the amount of annual rollover of unused benefits that Health FSA plans may offer to Plan participants.  Up until now, rollovers have been limited to $500 per Plan Year.  The new rule sets the annual rollover limit to 20% of the statutory maximum annual employee Health FSA contribution for the applicable Plan Year.  Because the statutory maximum is indexed for inflation, most years it increases (in mandated increments of $50).  

The notice provides that the increased rollover amount may apply to Plan Years beginning on or after January 1, 2020.  Because the corresponding annual Health FSA employee contribution limit for those Plan Years is $2,750, the annual rollover limit may be increased up to $550.

The relief provided under Notice 2020-29 falls into two major categories, both of which apply only for calendar year 2020.  First, the IRS introduces several significant exceptions to the mid-year change of election rules generally applicable to Section 125 Cafeteria Plans. Second, the notice contains a special grace period which offers Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) and Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) Participants additional time to incur eligible expenses during 2020.

The temporary exceptions to mid-year participant election change rules for 2020 authorize employers to allow employees who are eligible to participate in a Section 125 Cafeteria Plan to:

  1. make a new election to participate in employer sponsored group health plan coverage if the employee originally declined coverage at open enrollment (depending on if the insurance carrier will allow);
  2. change coverage options previously elected during open enrollment;
  3. drop group coverage for covered family members or themselves if they will be replacing the coverage for the impacted individual immediately with other coverage;
  4. make a prospective election to add, change or drop a Health FSA election; and
  5. make a prospective election to add, change or drop a DCAP election.

None of the above described election changes require compliance with the consistency rules which typically apply for mid-year Section 125 Cafeteria Plan election changes.  They also do not require a specific impact from the coronavirus pandemic for the employee.

Employers have the ability to limit election changes that would otherwise be permissible under the exceptions permitted by Notice 2020-29 so long as the limitations comply with the Section 125 non-discrimination rules.   For allowable Health FSA or DCAP election changes, employers may limit the amount of any election reduction to the amount previously reimbursed by the plan.  Interestingly, even though new elections to make Health FSA and DCAP contributions may not be retroactive, Notice 2020-29 provides that amounts contributed to a Health FSA after a revised mid-year election may be used for any medical expense incurred during the first Plan Year that begins on or after January 1, 2020.

For the election change described in item 3 above, the enrolled employee must make a written attestation that any coverage being dropped is being immediately replaced for the applicable individual.  Employers are allowed to rely on the employee’s written attestation without further documentation unless the employer has actual knowledge that the attestation is false.

The special grace period introduced in Notice 2020-29 allows all Health FSAs and DCAPs with a grace period or Plan Year ending during calendar year 2020 to allow otherwise eligible expenses to be incurred by Plan Participants until as late as December 31, 2020.  This temporary change will provide relief to non-calendar year based plans.  Calendar year Health FSA plans that offer rollovers of unused benefits will not benefit from this change.

The notice does clarify that this special grace period is permitted for non-calendar year Health FSA plans even if the plan provides rollover of unused benefits.  Previous guidance had prohibited Health FSA plans from offering both grace periods and rollovers but Notice 2020-29 provides a limited exception to that rule.

The notice raises one issue for employers to consider before amending their plan to offer the special grace period.  The special grace period will adversely affect the HSA contribution eligibility of individuals with unused Health FSA benefits at the end of the standard grace period or Plan Year for which a special grace period is offered.  This will be of particular importance for employers with employees who may be transitioning into a HDHP group health plan for the first time at open enrollment.

As mentioned above, employers wishing to incorporate any of the allowable changes offered under Notices 2020-29 and 2020-33 will be required to execute written amendments to their Plan Documents and the changes should be reflected in the Plan’s Summary Plan Description and/or a Summary of Material Modification.  Notice 2020-29 requires that any such Plan Amendment must be executed by the Plan Sponsor no later than December 31, 2021.

IRS Permits New Benefits in High Deductible Health Plans

July 22 - Posted at 6:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , ,

The IRS has recently issued Notice 2019-45, which increases the scope of preventive care that can be covered by a high deductible health plan (“HDHP”) without eliminating the covered person’s ability to maintain a health savings account (“HSA”).

Since 2003, eligible individuals whose sole health coverage is a HDHP have been able to contribute to HSAs. The contribution to the HSA is not taxed when it goes into the HSA or when it is used to pay health benefits. It can for example be used to pay deductibles or copays under the HDHP. But it can also be used as a kind of supplemental retirement plan to pay Medicare premiums or other health expenses in retirement, in which case it is more tax-favored than even a regular retirement plan.

As the name suggests, a HDHP must have a deductible that exceeds certain minimums ($1,350 for self-only HDHP coverage and $2,700 for family HDHP coverage for 2019, subject to cost of living changes in future years). However, certain preventive care (for example, annual physicals and many vaccinations) is covered without having to meet the deductible. In general, “preventive care” has been defined as care designed to identify or prevent illness, injury, or a medical condition, as opposed to care designed to treat an existing illness, injury, or condition.

Notice 2019-45 expands the existing definition of preventive care to cover medical expenses which, although they may treat a particular existing chronic condition, will prevent a future secondary condition. For example, untreated diabetes can cause heart disease, blindness, or a need for amputation, among other complications. Under the new guidance, a HDHP will cover insulin, treating it as a preventative for those other conditions as opposed to a treatment for diabetes.

The Notices states that in general, the intent was to permit the coverage of preventive services if:

  • The service or item is low-cost;
  • There is medical evidence supporting high cost efficiency (a large expected impact) of preventing exacerbation of the chronic condition or the development of a secondary condition; and
  • There is a strong likelihood, documented by clinical evidence, that with respect to the class of individuals prescribed the item or service, the specific service or use of the item will prevent the exacerbation of the chronic condition or the development of a secondary condition that requires significantly higher cost treatments.

The Notice is in general good news for those covered by HDHPs. However, it has two major limitations:

  • Only the specific treatments covered by the Notice are covered. Even if other treatments may meet the three-pronged test described above, they are not permitted to be covered. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be covered for a person who has depression. However, bupropion (which is similar in cost but affects brain chemicals other than serotonins) cannot be covered. Some people respond better to SSRIs, while others respond better to bupropion. The former can have their medications covered by a HDHP, while the latter cannot.
  • The Notice specifically says that male sterilization services (vasectomies) cannot be covered. This is an issue for two reasons. First, it means that while a HDHP can cover tubal ligations for women, it cannot cover the less expensive and less invasive comparable surgery for men. Some have suggested that this results in financial pressures on women, rather than their male partners, to undergo surgery. Second, many state laws require that health insurance cover vasectomies. In those states, anyone with health insurance (as opposed to an employer’s self-insured plan) will not be able to have an HSA.

Given the expansion of the types of preventive coverage that a HDHP can cover, and the tax advantages of an HSA to employees, employers who have not previously implemented a HDHP or HSA may want to consider doing so now. However, as with any employee benefit, it is important to consider both the potential demand for the benefit and the administrative cost.

HSA Limits Announced for 2020

May 30 - Posted at 8:56 PM Tagged: , , , ,

Late May 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the 2020 limits for contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and limits for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs). These inflation adjustments are provided for under Internal Revenue Code Section 223.

For the 2020 calendar year, an HDHP is a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,400 for self-only coverage and $2,800 for family coverage. 2020 annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, copayments and other amounts, excluding premiums) cannot exceed $6,900 for self-only coverage and $13,800 for family coverage.

For individuals with self-only coverage under an HDHP, the 2020 annual contribution limit to an HSA is $3,550 and for an individual with family coverage, the HSA contribution limit is $7,100.

No change was announced to the HSA catch-up contribution limit. If an individual is age 55 or older by the end of the calendar year, he or she can contribute an additional $1,000 to his or her HSA. If married and both spouses are age 55, each individual can contribute an additional $1,000 into his or her individual account.

For married couples that have family coverage where both spouses are over age 55, each spouse can take advantage of the $1,000 catch-up, but in order to get the full $9,100 contribution, they will need to use two accounts. The contribution cannot be maximized with only one account. One individual would contribute the family coverage maximum plus his or her individual catch-up, and the other would contribute the catch-up maximum to his or her individual account.

IRS Provides Relief for HSA Family Limits

April 27 - Posted at 2:30 PM Tagged: , , , ,
Yesterday, the IRS announced relief for taxpayers with family coverage under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) who contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) by permitting such taxpayers to treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution for 2018.

Earlier this year, the IRS announced a $50 reduction in the maximum deductible amount from $6,900 to $6,850 due to a change in the inflation adjustment calculations for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. However, due to widespread comments and complaints from major stakeholders, the IRS determined that it was in the best interest of “sound and efficient” tax administration to allow taxpayers to treat $6,900 as the 2018 family limit.  The IRS acknowledged that the costs of modifying systems to reflect the reduced maximum, as well as the costs associated with distributing a $50 excess contribution (and earnings) (which in some cases exceeded $50), would be significantly greater than any tax benefit associated with an unreduced HSA contribution.

IRS Announces HSA and HDHP Limitations for 2018

May 09 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On May 4, 2017, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2017-37 setting dollar limitations for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) for 2018.  HSAs are subject to annual aggregate contribution limits (i.e., employee and dependent contributions plus employer contributions).  HSA participants age 55 or older can contribute additional catch-up contributions.  Additionally, in order for an individual to contribute to an HSA, he or she must be enrolled in a HDHP meeting minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket thresholds.  The contribution, deductible and out-of-pocket limitations for 2018 are shown in the table below (2017 limits are included for reference).



Note that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also applies an out-of-pocket maximum on expenditures for essential health benefits. However, employers should keep in mind that the HDHP and ACA out-of-pocket maximums differ in a couple of respects.  First, ACA out-of-pocket maximums are higher than the maximums for HDHPs.  The ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum was identical to the HDHP maximum initially, but the Department of Health and Human Services (which sets the ACA limits) is required to use a different methodology than the IRS (which sets the HSA/HDHP limits) to determine annual inflation increases.  That methodology has resulted in a higher out-of-pocket maximum under the ACA.  The ACA out-of-pocket limitations for 2018 were announced are are $7350 for single and $14,700 for family. 


Second, the ACA requires that the family out-of-pocket maximum include “embedded” self-only maximums on essential health benefits.  For example, if an employee is enrolled in family coverage and one member of the family reaches the self-only out-of-pocket maximum on essential health benefits ($7,350 in 2018), that family member cannot incur additional cost-sharing expenses on essential health benefits, even if the family has not collectively reached the family maximum ($14,700 in 2018).


The HDHP rules do not have a similar rule, and therefore, one family member could incur expenses above the HDHP self-only out-of-pocket maximum ($6,650 in 2018). As an example, suppose that one family member incurs expenses of $10,000, $7,350 of which relate to essential health benefits, and no other family member has incurred expenses.  That family member has not reached the HDHP maximum ($14,700 in 2018), which applies to all benefits, but has met the self-only embedded ACA maximum ($7,350 in 2018), which applies only to essential health benefits.  Therefore, the family member cannot incur additional out-of-pocket expenses related to essential health benefits, but can incur out-of-pocket expenses on non-essential health benefits up to the HDHP family maximum (factoring in expenses incurred by other family members).


Employers should consider these limitations when planning for the 2018 benefit plan year and should review plan communications to ensure that the appropriate limits are reflected.

HHS Announces New Health Plan Out of Pocket Limits for 2017

March 07 - Posted at 3:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

On March 1, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the finalized 2017 health plan out-of-pocket (OOP) maximums.   Applicable to non-grandfathered health plans, the OOP limits for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017 are $7,150 for single coverage and $14,300  for family coverage, up from $6,850 single/$13,700 family in 2016. The OOP maximum includes the annual deductible and any in-network cost-sharing  obligations members have after the deductible is met.  Premiums,  pre-authorization penalties, and OOP expenses associated with out-of-network benefits are not required to be included in the OOP maximums.


In addition to the new OOP maximum limits, employers offering high deductible health plans need to be particularly mindful of the embedded OOP maximum requirement. Beginning in 2016, all  non-grandfathered health plans, whether self-funded or fully insured, must apply  an embedded OOP maximum to each individual enrolled in family coverage if the plan’s family OOP maximum exceeds the ACA’s OOP limit for self-only coverage  ($7,150 for 2017).  The ACA-required embedded OOP maximum is a new and  often confusing concept for employers offering a high deductible health plan  (HDHP). Prior to ACA, HDHPs commonly imposed one overall family OOP limit  on family coverage (called an aggregate OOP) without an underlying individual  OOP maximum for each covered family member.  Now, HDHPs must comply with  the IRS deductible and OOP parameters for self-only and family coverage in  addition to ACA’s OOP embedded single limit requirement.     


The IRS is expected to announce the 2017 HDHP  deductible and OOP limits in May 2016.

IRS Releases Health Savings Account Limitations

May 08 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , ,

The IRS released the 2016 cost-of-living adjustment amounts for health savings accounts (HSAs). Adjustments have been made to the HSA contribution limit for individuals with family high deductible health plan (HDHP) coverage and to some of the deductible and out-of-pocket limitations for HSA-compatible HDHPs.


The HSA contribution limit for an individual with self-only HDHP coverage remains at $3,350 for 2016. The 2016 contribution limit for an individual with family coverage is increased to $6,750. These limits do not include the additional annual $1,000 catch-up contribution amount for individuals age 55 and older, which is not subject to cost-of-living adjustments.


HSA-compatible HDHPs are defined by certain minimum deductible amounts and maximum out-of-pocket expense amounts. For HDHP self-only coverage, the minimum deductible amount is unchanged for 2016 and cannot be less than $1,300. The 2016 maximum out-of-pocket expense amount for self-only coverage is increased to $6,550. For 2016 family coverage, the minimum deductible amount is unchanged at $2,600 and the out-of-expense amount increases to $13,100.

Higher Limits for HSA Contributions in 2014

January 23 - Posted at 3:01 PM Tagged: , , , , , ,

The IRS has announced higher limits for 2014 contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs).The increased amounts reflect cost of living adjustments.

 

For 2014, the HSA contribution limit is $3300 for an individual and $6550 for a family. The HSA catch up contribution for those age 55 or older will remain at $1000. For an medical plan to be considered a qualified HDHP that can be paired with an HSA, it must have a minimum deductible of $1250 for an individual and $2500 for a family.

 

For those under age 65 (unless totally and permanently disabled) who use HSA funds for nonqualified medical expenses, they face a 20% penalty of 20% for nonqualified expenses. Funds spent for nonqualified purposes are also subject to income tax.

 

While the PPACA allows parents to add their adult children up to age 26 onto their medical plans, the IRS has not changed its definition of a dependent for HSAs. This means that an employee whose 24 year old child is covered on his HSA qualified high deductible health plan is not eligible to use HSA funds to pay for that child’s medical bills. If HSA account holders can’t claim a child as a dependent on their tax returns, then they can not spend HSA dollars on services provided to that child. According to the IRS definition, a dependent is a qualifying child (daughter, son, stepchild, sibling or stepsibling, or any descendent of these) who:

 

  • has the same principal place of residency as the covered employee for more than ½ of the taxable year
  • has not provided more than ½ of his or her own support during the taxable year
  • is not yet 19 (or, if a student, not yet 24) at the end of the tax year or is permanently disabled

 

Please contact our office with questions on high deductible health plans (HDHPs) as well as Health Saving Accounts (HSAs).

HSA Contribition Limits for 2014 Released

May 13 - Posted at 2:01 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

The Internal Revenue Service  recently announced higher contributions limits to health savings accounts (HSAs) and for out of pocket spending under qualified high deductible health plans (HDHPs) for 2014.

 

The IRS provided the inflation adjusted HSA contribution and HDHP minimum deductible and out of pocket limits effective for calendar year 2014. The higher rates reflect a cost of living adjustment (COLA) as well as rounding rules under the IRS Code Sec 223.

 

A comparison of the 2014 and 2013 limits are below:

 

The increases in contribution limits and out of pocket maximums from 2013 to 2014 were somewhat lower than increases in years prior.

 

Those under age 65 (unless totally and permanently disabled) who use HSA funds for nonqualified medical expenses face a penalty of 20% of the funds used for those nonqualified expenses. Funds spent for nonqualified purposes are also subject to income tax.

 

Adult Children Coverage

 

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows parents to add their adult children (up to age 26) to their health plans (and some state laws allow up to age 30 if certain requirements are met), the IRS has not changed its definition of a dependent for health savings accounts. This means that an employee whose 24 year old child is covered on their HSA qualified high deductible health plan is not eligible to use HSA funds to pay for that child’s medical bill.

 

If account holders can’t claim a child as a dependent on their tax returns, then they can’t spend HSA dollars on services provided to that child. According to the IRS definition, a dependent is a qualifying child (daughter, son, stepchild, sibling or stepsibling, or any descendant of these) who:

 

  • Has the same principal place of abode as the covered employee for more than one-half of the taxable year

     

  • Has not provided more than one-half of his/her own support during the taxable year

     

  • Is not yet 19 (or if a student not yet 24) at the end of the tax year or is permanently and totally disabled
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