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Employment Resources


By January 1, 2012No Comments

Health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts are growing in popularity. Many people aren’t aware of the changes that take place in these plans from year to year. It’s important to discuss account details with an agent each year to be fully aware of the current rules or upcoming changes.

Flexible Spending Accounts
These accounts are sometimes called flexible spending arrangements. They are tax-advantaged accounts that let employees automatically deposit a specific amount of each paycheck into them. After funds accumulate, they can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. These accounts are different from HSAs and HRAs in the respect that they are usually offered with traditional medical plans. They also differ from HSAs in the respect that the unused funds in the account may not be carried over to the next year. Debit cards or forms are used to access funds from the account if money is needed.

Flexible spending accounts allow account holders to contribute to the FSA for any costs that aren’t covered by insurance. Some examples of such expenses include coinsurance, copay amounts and deductibles. If a health insurance won’t cover a treatment or related health expense, FSA funds can be used to pay for it. The specified limits saw some changes from 2011 to 2012.

Contribution Limits
It was decided that 2012 would be the last year for no limits on FSA contributions. While there may not be limits in place, plans must specify a maximum percentage of compensation to be contributed to the FSA or a maximum dollar amount. The changes from 2010 to 2011 included over-the-counter medicines being eliminated from coverage if they weren’t prescribed by a doctor. The year 2013 will likely see one of the biggest changes: FSA contribution limits of $2,500 annually with yearly inflation increases.

Health Savings Accounts
HSAs are medical savings accounts that also have tax advantages. Taxpayers who are enrolled in HSA-qualified health plans with high deductibles are able to obtain them. At the time of deposit, the funds contributed to these accounts are not subject to federal income tax. Any unused funds that remain in the account at the end of the year are carried over to the next year and added to further contribution amounts. Since contribution also change with these plans each year, it’s important to be aware of the changes. The changes from 2011 to 2012 include an increase in out-of-pocket HDHP maximums and HSA contribution limits. However, there are no changes with the HDHP required minimum deductibles.

HSA Contribution Limits
Family: $6,250
Individual: $3,100
Catch-Up Contributions: $1,000

The individual amount of $3,100 reflects an increase of $50 from 2011’s limit. The $6,250 limit for families is an increase of $100 from 2011. Catch-up contribution limits, which are for people over the age of 55, remain the same between 2011 and 2012.

HDHP Minimum Required Deductibles
Self: $1,200
Family: $2,400
HDHP Out-Of-Pocket Maximum – Family: $12,100
HDHP Out-Of-Pocket Maximum – Self: $6,050

The HDHP limit increased by $100 between 2011 and 2012 for singles and by $200 for families. Another change between 2011 and 2012 is eligibility of over-the-counter medicines. Insulin is the only OTC medicine approved for reimbursement in 2012 under a health FSA, HSA or HRA without a prescription. In addition to this, it was decided that the penalty of 10% for ineligible expenses paid for using HSA funds would increase to 20% in 2012.