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IRS Announces 2021 HSA Contribution Limits

May 22 - Posted at 8:23 AM Tagged: , ,
The IRS has announced the 2021 inflation-adjusted contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSA). The 2021 contribution limits for HSAs as compared to 2020 are:

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.

CARES Act Expands Usages for HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs

March 30 - Posted at 10:35 AM Tagged: , , , , ,

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) was signed into law by the President on Friday.

There are three direct inclusions that immediately expand the usage of health savings accounts (HSA), flexible spending accounts (FSA), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) for employees.

1. Telehealth services can now be covered pre-deductible under a High Deductible Health Plan. The end date of this provision is Dec 21, 2021.

2. Over the counter (OTC) drugs and medicines are now eligible for reimbursement from an HSA, FSA or HRA. This is a permanent change.

3. Menstrual products are now eligible for reimbursement from an HSA, FSA or HRA. This is a permanent change.

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.

Last week, the IRS announced the 2019 maximum contribution limits for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Commuter Reimbursement Accounts (CRA), and Qualified Small Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSEHRA). 

Below is a table comparing the 2018 limits to the adjusted limits for 2019.



IRS Announces 2019 HSA Contribution Limits

May 16 - Posted at 4:11 PM Tagged: , , ,
Last week, the IRS released the 2019 inflation adjusted contribution limit amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSA).

The amounts for HSAs for 2019 as compared to 2018 are as follows:

2018
  • Annual Contribution Limit to HSA for Self Only Coverage = $3450
  • Annual Contribution Limit to HSA for Family coverage= $6900
  • Annual Deductible for Self Only Coverage = Not less than $1350
  • Annual Deductible for Family Coverage = Not less than $2700
  • Annual Out of Pocket Expenses for Self Only Coverage = Can’t exceed $6650
  • Annual Out of Pocket Expenses for Family Coverage = Can’t exceed $13,300

2019

  • Annual Contribution to HSA for Self Only Coverage = $3500
  • Annual Contribution to HSA for Family coverage = $7000
  • Annual Deductible for Self Only Coverage = Not less than $1350
  • Annual Deductible for Family Coverage = Not less than $2700
  • Annual Out of Pocket Expenses for Self Only Coverage = Can’t exceed $6750
  • Annual Out of Pocket Expenses for Family Coverage = Can’t exceed $13,500

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.

2017 FSA & HSA Limits Increases

October 26 - Posted at 10:35 PM Tagged: , , , , ,

Today the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2016-55 confirming a $50 increase in the health FSA contribution limit to $2,600.


With the passing of the ACA, employee contributions to an FSA were initially limited to $2500 per plan year. This has increased since 2014 to adjust for inflation with the limit being bumped up slightly to $2550 for 2015 & 2016 plan years.


Now, for health FSA plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017, we have a new increase in the salary reduction contribution limit to $2,600.  Be sure to double-check your Section 125 cafeteria plan document to confirm that it automatically incorporates these health FSA cost-of-living increases or to see if you need to specifically request to have the cap increased.


Earlier this year, the IRS also announced the inflation adjusted amounts for 2017 HSA contributions in Revenue Procedure 2016-28.  For individuals in self-only coverage, the 2017 contribution limit will increase to $3,400 (up from $3,350).  The family coverage contribution limit remains at $6,750 again in 2017.

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