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Spending Account News and Regulation Updates

Here's a collection of news and regulatory updates affecting spending accounts dating back to 2017.
  • 2020

    IRS Allows HDHP Compatibility With No Cost for COVID-19 Plan Coverage - 3/12/2020
    On Wednesday, March 11, the IRS released Notice 2020-15 that states high deductible health plan (HDHP) participants will not lose eligibility if their health plan provides testing and treatment of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at no cost or with a deductible below the minimum HDHP deductible.

    The Notice is in response to nationwide preparation of COVID-19, including many health plans announcing coverage for testing and treatment.

    More information about this Notice can be found on the IRS website.

    2019

    What the Cadillac Tax Repeal Means for Employers - 12/20/2019
    In December, 2019, President Trump signed spending legislation that will repeal of an excise tax on high-cost health plans, known as the Cadillac Tax. The Cadillac Tax, which was scheduled to take effect in 2022, would have imposed a 40 percent excise tax on employer health plans, deemed by many to be too generous. Are you curious what this could mean for you and your employees?

    At Further, we have been working hard to bring awareness to this tax and advocate for the repeal on behalf of our partners and clients. With the Cadillac Tax repeal, effective December 21, 2019, employees will continue to have access to their health spending and savings accounts that they rely on to pay for care today, and employers can continue to offer great health benefits without the worry of potential taxes.

    At Further, our mission is to provide resources and tools to our members that empower them to spend every day wisely. There are many online sources that provide more background on this tax, including information from the National Association of Health Underwriters and the Tax Policy Center.
    IRS Releases 2020 FSA and TRA Limits - 11/7/2019
    Issued Wednesday November 6, 2019, the IRS has raised the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) limit to $2,750 for 2020. Additionally, Transportation Reimbursement Account (TRA) expense limits for parking and transit have been set at $270/month.

    For groups that already set their contribution limits to the 2019 amount ($2,700), Further will automatically update that amount to the new 2020 limit of $2,750 unless notified otherwise within the next 30 days.
    New California law requires FSA employers to notify employees of withdrawal deadlines - 10/22/2019
    California has enacted a law that requires employers with flexible spending accounts (which includes health FSAs, dependent care or adoption assistance FSAs) to notify account participants of any deadline(s) to withdraw funds before the end of the plan year.

    The law will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

    The law does not give insight into when the required notices are to be provided but notes the notice must be provided in two different forms, one of which may be electronic. Permitted forms of notice include (but are not limited to) email, telephone, text message, postal mail or an in-person notification.

    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) likely preempts the law as applied to health FSAs that are under ERISA. DCAPs and adoption assistance FSAs are rarely subject to ERISA, nor are health FSAs that are governmental or church plans; the law is potentially applicable to these programs. Groups are advised to work with benefit counsel to determine if compliance is required.

    More information on this new law can be found on the California Legislative Information site here.

    If you have additional questions about these changes or impacts, please contact a Further representative.
    New Jersey Mandates Employers Offer TRA Benefit in 2020 - 7/24/2019
    In New Jersey, a bill was signed into law (SB 1567) that requires all employers with more than 20 employees to offer a pre-tax transportation benefit (Transportation Reimbursement Account or “TRA”).

    Key components of the law to be aware of:
    • The law will likely become effective on March 1, 2020. Employers will need to implement the program by this date, or the effective date of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Regulations (whichever comes first).
    • The law covers commuter highway vehicle and transit benefits per federal section 132 TRA rules but does not apply to parking or bicycle benefits. However, the employer may still expand the benefit to include these items.
    • The law does not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), employers with less than 20 employees, or employees of the federal government.
    • Civil penalties of up to $250 could be enacted for every 30 days of noncompliance. The first offense is a penalty of $100 to $250, with a 90-day window to correct.
    A link to the bill can be found here.

    If you have any questions about TRAs or any related spending account, please contact your Further representative.
    HDHP Preventive Care Benefits Expanded - 7/17/2019
    On July 17, 2019, the IRS issued guidance that expands health savings account (HSA) qualified expenses. HSAs will now cover additional services and items used to treat chronic conditions, such as preventative care. This guidance expands the list of preventative care benefits covered by high deductible health plans (HDHPs) under section 223(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code).

    The change took effect on July 17, 2019.

    The list of approved preventive care items and details regarding the notice are provided here.
    HRA Expansion Passes - 6/14/2019
    Announced June 14, 2019, the DOL, IRS and HHS released final regulations for broadening Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) rules. The final rules adopted most of the regulations proposed by the same agencies on October 24, 2018. These expanded HRA rules allow employers to offer an HRA that reimburses an employee for individual health insurance premiums or a standalone HRA that reimburses medical expenses of up to $1800 a year.

    Specifics of these rules will be published June 20, 2019. The regulations will take effect for plans which start after January 1, 2020

    For the most part, the final rules keep the terms of the proposed rules with helpful clarifications around issues such as employee class types, the amount and variation of benefits offered to employees, and what individual plans qualify for reimbursement.

    Read our article outlining the basic framework of the final HRA rules.
    2020 Limits for HDHPs and HSA Contributions Announced - 5/28/2019
    On May 28, 2019, the IRS announced the following 2020 limits for high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).

    In 2020, individual HSA contribution limits will rise to $3,550; the family HSA contribution limit will rise to $7,100.

    The HDHP minimum deductible limit for individual coverage will change in 2020 to $1,400, with family coverage changing to $2,800. Additionally, the HDHP maximum out-of-pocket expenses will change under this provision. For individuals, it changes to $6,900 and for families, $13,800.

    These limits become effective January 1, 2020.

    2018

    Update to Proposed HRA Expansion - 11/19/2018
    A new IRS notice addresses issues under the Code concerning the requirements of Section 4980H (employer mandate) and Section 105(h) (non-discrimination tests). The IRS is working through disparities of the new HRA rules and the employer mandate rule. The employer mandate requires employers to offer affordable coverage that meets a minimum value (comprehensive benefits set at 60 percent actuarial value).

    Below are the primary highlights of the notice that we feel are important to note.

    Application of the Employer Mandate and Applicable Large Employer (50 or more employees) that offers an Integrated HRA

    Affordability - The IRS anticipates that the existing safe harbors under the Employer Mandate (W-2 Safe Harbor, Rate of Pay Safe Harbor, and Federal Poverty Line Safe Harbor) will continue to apply in conjunction with the following:
    • Location Safe Harbor - What is deemed affordable is based on the self-only lowest cost silver plan offered on the exchange and is based on where the primary site of employment is rather than on where the employee resides.
    • Calendar/Non-Calendar Year Safe Harbors - If the group's plan year falls on January 1st, the employer can use the cost of the lowest cost silver plan for the prior plan year, whereas if the groups plan year falls midyear (typically 7/1), the group can use the cost of the silver plan in existence on the first month of the plan.
    In conjunction with the Proposed HRA Rule and Potential Affordability Safe Harbors, the following Section 105(h) issues were also addressed:

    Nondiscrimination Rules
    • Uniformity Test - In order to meet nondiscrimination rules, HRA amounts cannot be varied for different employee classes. The IRS expects that as long as the employer offers uniform contributions to all participants in a particular class, they would meet the 105 rules.
    • Age Variance - An exception to the uniform contribution rule above is that there can be variation within a class due to age so long as the variation coincides with the age-based cost of the individual insurance plan.
    The IRS continues to invite comments on the HRA Proposed Rule and on Notice 2018-88, which should be submitted no later than December 28, 2018. The proposed HRA expansion would go into effect January 1, 2020.
    IRS Releases 2019 FSA and TRA Limits - 11/15/2018
    Issued Thursday November 15, 2018 as per IRS publication rp-18-57, the IRS has raised the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) limit to $2,700 for 2019. Additionally, Transportation Reimbursement Account (TRA) expense limits for parking and transit have been set at $265/month.

    For groups that already set their contribution limits to the 2018 amount ($2,650), Further will automatically update that amount to the new 2019 limit of $2,700 unless notified otherwise within the next 30 days.
    Federal Agencies Propose Expansion of HRAs - 10/26/2018
    On October 24, 2018 the DOL, IRS, and HHS released proposed regulations broadening HRA rules which would allow employers to offer HRAs that reimburse an employee's individual insurance premiums or a standalone HRA that reimburses medical expenses of up to $1,800 a year. This would go into effect January 1, 2020.

    The proposed regulations would allow for the following two types of HRAs:

    Premium Reimbursement HRA (PRA): The PRA would reimburse employees for the cost of individual insurance plans.

    Standalone HRA: Standalone HRAs are not integrated in a group health plan or attached to an individual insurance policy.

    If this proposal goes into effect, employers looking to incorporate these new HRA types into their benefits offerings may need to amend their cafeteria and ERISA plan documents and provide a notice to advise employees that electing a PRA may prevent them from receiving an exchange premium tax credits (PTC). As always, Further will ensure that we have supporting materials available on this site if we administer these new accounts to any groups.
    House Passes Two Bills Modernizing HSA and FSA Rules - 7/25/2018
     
    The Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 6199) and the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 6311), if signed into law, would:
    • Allow individuals with bronze or catastrophic coverage through government-approved health insurance plans to contribute to an HSA.
    • Allow unused FSA funds to roll over to the following year. Current IRS rules limit individuals to carry forward up to $500 from an FSA into the following year.
    • Broaden the qualified medical expense definition to include over-the-counter drugs, menstrual care products, and certain sports and fitness expenses.
    • Increase the contribution limits for HSAs.
    If these bills become law, it could significantly increase the popularity and usage of HSAs. Additionally, studies show that the popularity of medical FSAs is declining. If these bills become law, it could reverse that trend.

    Both pieces of legislation are expected to go to the Senate for vote later this year. Before they become law, President Donald Trump will need to sign.

    Further® will continue to monitor events and provide updates.
    IRS Reinstates $6900 HSA Contribution Limit - 4/27/2018
    Overview: The IRS released guidance allowing 2018 family HSA contribution limits to again be $6,900.

    On March 2, 2018, the IRS released guidance which lowered due to inflation the 2018 HSA contribution limit for family coverage by $50 to $6,850. This surprised a lot of people and could have led to tax penalties for individuals who had already contributed more than the new limit or individuals who didn’t realize the limit had changed and fail to change their contributions to the new lower limit by the end of 2018. However, this new guidance removes any potential tax penalties for 2018.

    Next Steps:
    • Taxpayers can continue to treat the family HSA contribution limit as $6,900.
    • If a taxpayer has received a corrective distribution they may, but are not required, to repay the contribution to the HSA up to the $6,900 limit.
    Maryland Passes Male Sterilization Exemption for HSAs - 04/18/2018
    On Tuesday, April 10 state legislation was officially changed (enacted) in Maryland exempting HDHP health plans from the male sterilization coverage. The original law mandated that as of 1/1/18 all plans in MD cover male contraceptives at 100%. This made all plans incompatible with HSAs because only preventative services can be covered at 100%. This change to the law provides an exception from this rule for HDHP plans so that those members would still be able to contribute to their HSAs.

    2017

    Proposed Legislation To Increase HSA Contribution Limits - 11/7/2017
    On May 28, 2019, the IRS announced the following 2020 limits for high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).

    In 2020, individual HSA contribution limits will rise to $3,550; the family HSA contribution limit will rise to $7,100.

    The HDHP minimum deductible limit for individual coverage will change in 2020 to $1,400, with family coverage changing to $2,800. Additionally, the HDHP maximum out-of-pocket expenses will change under this provision. For individuals, it changes to $6,900 and for families, $13,800.

    These limits become effective January 1, 2020.