Today the Internal Revenue Service released important new Health Savings Account guidance (Notice 2004-50).  Notice 2004-50 consists of 88 questions and answers, along with transition relief for a few specific situations.  Questions and answers of significant importance include:

Q&A 10--specifying that coverage under an employee assistance plan, disease management program or wellness program typically will not constitute a "health plan" that would cause someone to lose his or her status as an "eligible individual";

Guidance on how to calculate deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums in some difficult situations (e.g., Q&A 20);

Rules for dealing with errors (e.g., withdrawals of excess contributions, Q&A 34);

Clarification that no time limit typically applies for when someone must submit an expense (Q&A 39);

Significant guidance on when an employer can contribute amounts on behalf of individuals and the nondiscrimination rules (often those applicable to "cafeteria" plans under Internal Revenue Code Section 125) relating to those contributions (Part VI);

Guidance on how HSAs interact with cafeteria plans (Part VIII);

Restrictions on what are permissible investments for HSAs (Q&A 65);

Clarification that administration and account maintenance fees, when paid outside the HSA, do not count towards the annual maximum contribution limit (Q&A 70, 71);

Guidance regarding certain responsibilities of HSA trustees and custodians (Part X);

Clarification that HSA amounts may not be restricted and only the account beneficiary (not an employer) may determine how HSA distributions can be used (Q&A 79).

You can view the entire Notice

 

 

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