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How to Make the Most Out of Your FSA at Year-End | Maryland Benefit Advisors

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to act on the money sitting in your Flexible Spending/Savings Account (FSA). Unlike a Health Savings Account or HSA, pre-taxed funds contributed to an FSA are lost at the end of the year if an employee doesn’t use them, and an employer doesn’t adopt a carryover policy.  It’s to your advantage to review the various ways you can make the most out of your FSA by year-end.

Book Those Appointments

One of the first things you should do is get those remaining appointments booked for the year. Most medical/dental/vision facilities book out a couple of months in advance, so it’s key to get in now to use up those funds.

 

Look for FSA-Approved Everyday Health Care Products

Many drugstores will often advertise FSA-approved products in their pharmacy area, within a flyer, or on their website. These products are usually tagged as “FSA approved”. Many of these products include items that monitor health and wellness – like blood pressure and diabetic monitors – to everyday healthcare products like children’s OTC meds, bandages, contact solution, and certain personal care items. If you need to use the funds up before the end of the year, it’s time to take a trip to your local drugstore and stock up on these items.

Know What’s Considered FSA-Eligible

Over the last several years, the IRS has loosened the guidelines on what is considered eligible under a FSA as more people became concerned about losing the money they put into these plans. There are many items that are considered FSA-eligible as long as a prescription or a doctor’s note is provided or kept on file. Here are a few to consider:

Acupuncture. Those who suffer from chronic neck or back pain, infertility, depression/anxiety, migraines or any other chronic illness or condition, Eastern medicine may be the way to go. Not only are treatments relatively inexpensive, but this 3,000 year old practice is recognized by the U.S. National Institute of Health and is an eligible FSA expense.

Dental/Vision Procedures. Dental treatment can be expensive—think orthodontia and implants. While many employers may offer some coverage, it’s a given there will be out-of-pocket costs you’ll incur. And, eye care plans won’t cover the cost of LASIK, but your FSA will. So, if you’ve been wanting to correct your vision without the aid of glasses or contacts, or your needing to get that child braces, using those FSA funds is the way to go.

Health-boosting Supplements. While you cannot just walk into any health shop and pick up performance-enhancing powder or supplements and pay with your FSA card, your doctor may approve certain supplements and alternative options if they deem it to benefit your health and well-being. A signed doctor’s note will make these an FSA-eligible expense.

Smoking-cessation and Weight-Loss Programs. If your doctor approves you for one of these programs with a doctor’s note deeming it’s medically necessary to maintain your health, certain program costs can be reimbursed under an FSA.

 

Talk to Your HR Department

When the IRS loosened guidelines a few years ago, they also made it possible for participants to carry over $500 to the next year. Ask Human Resources if your employer offers this, or if they provide a grace period (March 15 of the following year) to turn in receipts and use up funds. Employers can only adopt one of these two policies though.

Plan for the Coming Year

Analyze the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred this year and make the necessary adjustments to allocate what you believe you’ll need for the coming year. Take advantage of the slightly higher contribution limit for 2018.  If your company offers a FSA that covers dependent care, familiarize yourself with those eligible expenses and research whether it would be to your advantage to contribute to as well.

 

Flexible Spending/Saving Accounts can be a great employee benefit offering tax advantages for employees that have a high-deductible plan or use a lot of medical. As a participant, using the strategies listed above will help you make the most out of your FSA.

 

PCORI Fee Increase for Health Plans | Maryland Benefit Advisors

On October 6, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2017-61 to announce that the health plan Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee for plan years ending between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 will be $2.39 per plan participant. This is an increase from the prior year’s fee of $2.26 due to an inflation adjustment.

Background

The Affordable Care Act created the PCORI to study clinical effectiveness and health outcomes. To finance the nonprofit institute’s work, a small annual fee — commonly called the PCORI fee — is charged on group health plans.

The fee is an annual amount multiplied by the number of plan participants. The dollar amount of the fee is based on the ending date of the plan year. For instance:

  • For plan year ending between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017: $2.26.
  • For plan year ending between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018: $2.39.

The fee amount is adjusted each year for inflation. The program sunsets in 2019, so no fee will apply for plan years ending after September 30, 2019.

Insurers are responsible for calculating and paying the fee for insured plans. For self-funded health plans, however, the employer sponsor is responsible for calculating and paying the fee. Payment is due by filing Form 720 by July 31 following the end of the calendar year in which the health plan year ends. For example, if the group health plan year ends December 31, 2017, Form 720 must be filed along with payment no later than July 31, 2018.

Certain types of health plans are exempt from the fee, such as:

  • Stand-alone dental and/or vision plans;
  • Employee assistance, disease management, and wellness programs that do not provide significant medical care benefits;
  • Stop-loss insurance policies; and
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs).

A health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) also is exempt from the fee provided that it is integrated with another self-funded health plan sponsored by the same employer. In that case, the employer pays the PCORI fee with respect to its self-funded plan, but does not pay again just for the HRA component. If, however, the HRA is integrated with a group insurance health plan, the insurer will pay the PCORI fee with respect to the insured coverage and the employer pays the fee for the HRA component.

Resources

The IRS provides the following guidance to help plan sponsors calculate, report, and pay the PCORI fee:

Originally posted by www.ThinkHR.com

IRS Announces HSA Limits for 2018 | Maryland Benefit Advisors

On May 4, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2017-37 announcing the annual inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) for calendar year 2018. An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account employees can use to pay for qualified health expenses.

To be eligible for an HSA, an employee:

  • Must be covered by a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP);
  • Must not have any disqualifying health coverage (called “impermissible non-HDHP coverage”);
  • Must not be enrolled in Medicare; and
  • May not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

The limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP. The limits are as follows:

  • 2018 HSA contribution limit:
    • Single: $3,450 (an increase of $50 from 2017)
    • Family: $6,900 (an increase of $150 from 2017)
    • Catch-up contributions for those age 55 and older remains at $1,000
  • 2018 HDHP minimum deductible (not applicable to preventive services):
    • Single: $1,350 (an increase of $50 from 2017)
    • Family: $2,700 (an increase of $100 from 2017)
  • 2018 HDHP maximum out-of-pocket limit:
    • Single: $6,650 (an increase of $100 from 2017)
    • Family: $13,300* (an increase of $200 from 2017)

*If the HDHP is a nongrandfathered plan, a per-person limit of $7,350 also will apply due to the ACA’s cost-sharing provision for essential health benefits.

Note: The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill to repeal and replace portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Included in that bill is a proposal to increase significantly the annual limits on HSA contributions, going back to calendar year 2017. The House bill now moves to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

Originally published by www.thinkhr.com