Health Flexible Spending Arrangements

By | November 12, 2013

Application of the Affordable Care Act to Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Flexible Spending Arrangements and Certain Other Employer Healthcare Arrangements

The Affordable Care Act’s market reforms apply to group health plans. On Sept. 13, 2013, the IRS issued Notice 2013-54, which explains how the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms apply to certain types of group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) and certain other employer healthcare arrangements, including arrangements under which an employer reimburses an employee for some or all of the premium expenses incurred for an individual health insurance policy. The notice also provides guidance on employee assistance programs or EAPs and on section 125(f)(3), which prohibits the use of pre-tax employee contributions to cafeteria plans to purchase coverage on an Affordable Insurance Exchange (also called a Marketplace). The notice applies for plan years beginning on and after Jan. 1, 2014, but taxpayers may apply the guidance provided in the notice for all prior periods.


Health Flexible Spending Arrangements

DOL has issued a notice in substantially identical form to Notice 2013-54, DOL Technical Release 2013-03, and HHS will shortly issue guidance to reflect that it concurs with Notice 2013-54. On Jan. 24, 2013, DOL and HHS issued FAQs that addressed the application of the Affordable Care Act to HRAs.


Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (HSA Accounts)

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the cost of an over-the-counter medicine or drug cannot be reimbursed from Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements unless a prescription is obtained. The change does not affect insulin, even if purchased without a prescription, or other health care expenses such as medical devices, eye glasses, contact lenses, co-pays and deductibles. This standard applies only to purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2011. A similar rule went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs). Employers and employees should take these changes into account as they make health benefit decisions. For more information, see news release IR-2010-95Notice 2010-59Revenue Ruling 2010-23 and our questions and answers. FSA and HRA participants can continue using debit cards to buy prescribed over-the-counter medicines, if requirements are met. For more information, see news release IR-2010-128 and Notice 2011-5. Additionally, Notice 2013-57 provides information about the definition of preventive care for purposes of high deductible health plans associated with HSAs.


Contributing Funds to FSA and HSA Accounts

In addition, starting in 2013, there are new rules about the amount that can be contributed to an FSA. Notice 2012-40 provides information about these rules and flexibility for employers applying the new rules. On Oct. 31, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2013-71, which provides information on a new $500 carryover option for employer-sponsored healthcare flexible spending arrangements. Learn more by reading the news release issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Further, Notice 2013-54 provides guidance regarding the application of the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms to certain health FSAs.