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Health savings account caps rise $50 for self-only plans, $150 for family coverage
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Update: For 2019 limits on health savings accounts, see the
SHRM Online article
2019 HSA Contribution Limits Rise, IRS Says.
The amount that individuals may contribute annually to their health savings accounts (HSAs) for self-only coverage will rise by $50 next year. For HSAs linked to family coverage, the contribution cap will rise by $150.
Revenue Procedure 2017-37, issued May 4, the IRS provided the inflation-adjusted HSA contribution limits effective for calendar year 2018, along with minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses for the high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) that HSAs must be coupled with.
These rate changes reflect cost-of-living adjustments, if any, and rounding rules under Internal Revenue Code Section 223.
"The contribution limits for various tax advantaged accounts for the following year are usually announced in the fall, except for HSAs, which come out in the spring," explained Harry Sit, CEBS, who edits The Financial Buff blog. Due to a mild uptick in inflation and rounding rules, the 2018 HSA limit will have small increases, he noted.
"Employers should consider these limits when planning for the 2018 benefit plan year and should review plan communications to ensure that the appropriate limits are reflected," advised Damian A. Myers, a labor and employee benefits attorney with Proskauer in Washington, D.C.
Employer Contribution Methods
Employers that contribute to the HSAs of their employees may do so inside or outside of a cafeteria (Section 125) plan. The contribution rules are different for each option, explains
HSAs and Employer Responsibilities, an analysis by United Benefit Advisors, a network of benefits advisory organizations.
To encourage greater participation, a majority (62 percent) of large U.S. employers that offer HSAs also contribute to these accounts, according to the annual Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, based on responses from 555 employers with at least 1,000 employees.
In 2017, the median automatic "seed" contribution by employers was $300 for employee-only coverage and $700 for family coverage, the survey found.
However, if employers provided both an automatic contribution and an additional "earned" HSA contribution, for instance as a financial incentive for participating in wellness activities—such as completing a health assessment—then the median employer contribution (automatic plus earned) came to $750 for employee-only coverage and $1,400 for family coverage.
HDHP enrollees who are age 55 or older can contribute an extra $1,000 "catch-up contribution" annually to their HSAs. The catch-up contribution can be made during the year (prior to their birthday) by account holders who will turn 55 by year-end.
"If you are married, and both of you are age 55, each of you can contribute additional $1,000," Sit said. But there's a catch, he added.
An HSA is in an individual account holder's name—there is no joint HSA even when the plan provides family coverage—so only an account holder age 55 or older can contribute the additional $1,000 in his or her own name. "If only the husband is 55 or older and the wife contributes the full family contribution limit to the HSA in her name, the husband has to open a separate account for the additional $1,000. If both husband and wife are age 55 or older, they must have two HSA accounts if they want to contribute the maximum," Sit said.
2018 Health FSA Employee Contribution Limit is $2,650
Beginning in 2018, the dollar limit on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) is $2,650, up $50 from the 2017 limit of $2,600, the IRS announced in
Revenue Procedure 2017-58, issued on Oct. 19, 2017. See the
SHRM Online article
2018 FSA Contribution Cap Rises to $2,650.
Those covered by an HSA-eligible health plan on Dec. 1 of a given year are considered eligible individuals for the entire year and may contribute the entire year's contribution to their HSA instead of making pro rata contributions by month. This is known as the Dec. 1 or
last-month rule. However, partial-year HDHP enrollees who take advantage of the last-month rule must remain eligible individuals covered by an HDHP through Dec. 1 of the following year or risk tax assessments and penalties on their prior-year HSA contributions.
Besides a high deductible, to qualify as an HDHP, a health insurance plan must not offer
any benefit beyond preventive care before those covered by the plan (individuals or families) meet their annual deductible. "An otherwise high deductible plan fails the HSA qualification when it tries to be nice and it gives you some benefits before you meet the deductible," Sit explained. For instance, if the plan provides coverage in the following areas before the individual or family satisfies their deductible, it is not HSA-eligible.
Besides the minimum deductible, the out-of-pocket maximum of an HSA-eligible plan also can't be higher than an inflation-adjusted number published by the IRS every year. "If your plan has a high deductible and a high out-of-pocket maximum, higher than the IRS published number, it's also not HSA-eligible," Sit said.
More Organizations Use Health Savings Accounts
Among Society for Human Resource Management members polled earlier this year, more than one-half (55 percent) said their organizations offer HSAs coupled with high-deduction health plans, and more than one-third (36 percent) provide an employer contribution to the HSA, according to SHRM's 2017 Employee Benefits report.
At the same time, there has been a slight decrease in medical flexible spending accounts (FSAs) over the past five years, while health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) have held steady at around 20 percent.
(Click on graphic to view in a separate window.)
Separately, the nonprofit
Employee Benefit Research Institute reported there were an estimated 20 million HSAs in the U.S. as of the end of 2016, and HSA-eligible plans covered nearly 3 in 10 employees. The HSA market did not exist until 2004, and more than 3 in 4 HSAs (77 percent) have been opened since 2013.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows parents to add their adult children (up to age 26) to their health plans, the tax laws regarding HSAs have not changed and an adult child must still be considered a tax dependent in order for an adult child’s medical expenses to qualify for payment or reimbursement from a parent’s HSA. This means that an employee whose 24-year-old nondependent child is covered on her HSA-qualified health plan is not eligible to use HSA funds to pay that child's medical bills.
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. Under the IRS definition, a dependent is a qualifying child (daughter, son, stepchild, sibling or stepsibling, or any descendant of these) who:
There are two sets of limits on out-of-pocket expenses that employers should keep in mind, which can be a source of confusion.
Starting in 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established annual out-of-pocket or cost-sharing limits under the ACA, applying to essential health benefits covered by a plan (grandfathered plans are not subject to the ACA's cost-sharing limits).
The ACA's annual out-of-pocket maximums have been slightly higher than the IRS's out-of-pocket limits on HSA-qualified HDHPs. To qualify as an HDHP, a plan must comply with the lower out-of-pocket maximum for HDHPs.
HHS published its 2018 ACA out-of-pocket limits in the
Federal Register on Dec. 22, 2016, in its
Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2018 final rule.
"The ACA requires the out-of-pocket maximum to be updated annually based on the percent increase in average premiums per person for health insurance coverage," explains
an ACA compliance bulletin by the Stellar Benefits Group in Solon, Ohio, which provides an overview of the HHS's 2018 updates.
Below is a comparison of the two sets of limits.
Out-of-pocket limits for ACA-compliant plans (set by HHS)
Out-of-pocket limits for HSA-qualified HDHPs (set by IRS)
Beginning in 2016, the ACA's self-only annual limit on cost-sharing
applied to each covered individual, regardless of whether the individual is enrolled in self-only coverage or family coverage.
Under current law, individuals enrolled in Medicare may not contribute to an HSA, although HSA funds contributed earlier may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses on a tax-free basis.
As the nonprofit
Medicare Rights Center explains, if individuals age 65 or older who are still employed are covered by an employer-sponsored HDHP and delay enrolling in Medicare, whether they can continue contributing to their HSA depends on their circumstances:
Those who choose to delay Medicare enrollment must also wait to collect Social Security retirement benefits because most individuals who are collecting Social Security benefits will, when they become eligible for Medicare, be automatically enrolled into Medicare Part A.
Finally, those who delay enrolling in Medicare should make sure to stop contributing to their HSA at least six months before they plan to enroll in Medicare. This is because when someone enrolls in Medicare Part A, they receive up to six months of retroactive coverage, not going back farther than their initial month of eligibility. Those who don't stop making HSA contributions at least six months before Medicare enrollment may incur a tax penalty.
Related SHRM Articles:
2018 Family HSA Contribution Limit Stays at $6,900 After All,
SHRM Online Benefits, April 2018
For 2018, 401(k) Contribution Limit for Employees Rises to $18,500,
SHRM Online Benefits, October 2017
2018 FSA Employee Cap Rises to $2,650,
SHRM Online Benefits, October 2017
Prepare for Early 2018 ACA Information Reporting on Health Coverage,
SHRM Online Benefits, September 2017
Tear Down the Silos Between Employees' HSAs and 401(k)s,
SHRM Online Benefits, June 2017
HSA Enrollment Rises as Employer Contributions Fall,
SHRM Online Benefits, May 2017
GOP’s Health Care Bill Highlights an HSA Political Divide,
SHRM Online Benefits, March 2017
New Law Lets Small Employers Use Stand-Alone Health Reimbursement Arrangements,
SHRM Online Benefits, December 2016
Health Care Consumerism: HSAs and HRAs,
SHRM Online Benefits, May 2016
Address HSA Misconceptions During Open Enrollment,
SHRM Online Benefits, October 2016
HSA Tax Benefits Often Overlooked,
SHRM Online Benefits, July 2016
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