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Health FSAs are a great tool - just make sure you keep up with the changes

Updated: Nov 29, 2023


Health FSAs for Employers: Benefits and Considerations What is a Health FSA? A Health flexible spending account (FSA) is a type of tax-advantaged benefit plan that allows employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax salary to cover eligible medical expenses. These may include deductibles, copayments, prescription medications, and even certain over-the-counter items. Contributions made by employees to an FSA are excluded from their taxable income, resulting in potential tax savings. Benefits for Employers 1. Cost Savings: By offering a Health FSA, employers can save on taxes. Since employee contributions to an FSA are made pre-tax, employers do not need to match those amounts for payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. Additionally, any contributions made by the employer towards employee FSAs are tax-deductible. 2. Employee Attraction and Retention: A comprehensive employee benefits package, including a Health FSA, can greatly enhance your appeal to potential candidates. Furthermore, it demonstrates your commitment to employee well-being and can improve retention rates. 3. Increased Employee Satisfaction: Health FSAs provide employees with an opportunity to save on qualifying medical expenses, thus reducing their out-of-pocket costs. This, in turn, leads to increased employee satisfaction and morale. 4. Versatility and Flexibility: Health FSAs offer flexibility to accommodate various types of employees. Whether it's individuals, families, or employees with specific medical needs, an FSA can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of each employee. Considerations for Employers 1. Plan Design and Communication: Employers need to carefully design and communicate their Health FSA plans to ensure employees understand the rules and eligibility criteria. Effective communication is crucial to encourage employees to take full advantage of the benefits available. 2. Contribution Limits: The IRS imposes annual limits on the amount employees can contribute to their Health FSAs. For FSA plan years beginning in 2024, the contribution limit is set at $3,200 per employee. Employers should keep this limit in mind while designing their plan and communicating it to employees. 3. Use-it-or-Lose-it Rule: Health FSAs are subject to the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule. This means that, typically, any funds contributed to an FSA must be used within the plan year or within a grace period determined by the employer. However, the IRS allows employers to offer one of two options: a carryover of up to $640 of unused funds into the next plan year OR a grace period of up to 2.5 months to utilize the remaining balance (carryover or grace period is permitted but not both). 4. Administrative Support: Managing Health FSAs requires accurate record-keeping, timely reimbursements, claims substantiation and compliance with applicable regulations. Employers may opt to outsource FSA administration to a third-party firm to alleviate the administrative burden.


5. Nondiscrimination testing: Required nondiscrimination testing must be perfmormed at least annually to ensure the plan doesn't somehow favor highly-compensated individuals. Offering a Health FSA as part of your employee benefits package can provide numerous advantages to both employers and employees. However, employers should carefully consider plan design, contribution limits, the use-it-or-lose-it rule, and administrative support to ensure a successful and compliant FSA program.


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