Tag: Health Reimbursement Arrangements

Updated Website Coming October 21 – New Look, New Features and Better Security!

Don’t Forget to “Refresh” Your Browser and Clear Your Cache!

Starting October 21, the Sterling Health Services website will look a little different and be even more secure. While you’ll still feel right at home, here are some important changes to the website.

Please note that during this transition, the Sterling website will be down from 10 pm Pacific time on October 18 until 6 pm Pacific time on October 20.

  • Login Process: Starting October 21, the process has changed to login to your HSA, FSA or HRA account. These new security features help users know they are on the actual Sterling website and not a fraudulent look-alike site. Here is how it works:
    • For existing online users, enter your username in the space near the upper left of the homepage and then click the orange “Sign In” button. You’ll no longer enter a password from the homepage. After you click “Sign In,” you’ll be directed to a page where you’ll be asked to set up new security features associated with your account. You’ll need to choose 3 security questions and answers, a security image (small photo used to identify you when you login) and a security phrase. Once done, follow the prompts to enter your password and login. You’ll have an option to skip the new security set-up for up to 30 days, but will be required to set it up after that.
    • New online users who want to register their account for online access just click on “Register for Online Access” in the upper right section of the homepage and follow the prompts to complete the correct registration form. The new security set-up will be required for all new users to register their account.
  • Navigation & Organization: While much of the navigation and information on the site is the same, we’ve organized the homepage to make it easier for individuals interested in health savings accounts and groups of employees who work with us through their employer to find the information they need and take advantage of our services.
  • Forms & Documents: You’ll find that our forms and documents have a new look as well, including our new company logo. The content of the forms and documents is the same to make it easy for you to use these tools to manage your account needs.

Contact us with any questions.

For Producer Partners: HRA Takeovers Save Business and Money

Are your clients paying too much each month for their Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and not getting the service they expect? Are they considering another administrator?

If so, we’d like to talk with them about our HRA services and our low monthly fees. We offer two types of HRA plans – basic and comprehensive – and a number of funding options for only $5.00 per employee per month for the basic plan and $8.00 per employee per month for the comprehensive plan. Our plan set-up and renewal fees are also competitive.

We provide a full range of HRA administrative services, including:

  • Employer needs assessment, HRA plan development, and personal enrollment support.
  • Plan document preparation and distribution.
  • Participant set up, educational materials, and issuance of debit cards, if selected by employers.
  • Healthcare expense claim review and payment of bills direct to providers or as reimbursement to the employee participant, depending upon how the employer sets up the account.
  • Nondiscrimination testing mid-year (if requested) and annually to insure compliance.
  • Accounting and reconciliation of employer funds.
  • Preparation of Form 5500 and Schedule C for HRA clients with 100 or more employees enrolled in the HRA.
  • Monthly reporting to employers.
  • Online information and account management tools, as well as personal customer service.

HRA takeovers can occur anytime. Your clients don’t have to wait for renewal.

Please contact us today for more details on our HRA product.

Employer Compliance Update: June 30 Deadline for FSA, HRA & HSA Amendments

Last year’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) restricted the ability of employer health plans, including flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), to reimburse expenses incurred for over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  Funds from these accounts can no longer be used to purchase items like aspirin, allergy and cold medications without a written doctor’s prescription. The pharmacist must fill prescriptions for these  items to be qualified expenses. There are still many over-the-counter medical products that can be purchased using FSA, HRA and HSA funds without a  doctor’s prescription. Examples include contact lens solutions and diabetic test kits and supplies. Accountholders should check before they purchase.

Sponsors of FSAs face a June 30, 2011 deadline for amending their plans to comply with this ACA restriction.This restriction actually became effective as of January 1, 2011. Ordinarily, the IRS requires that FSA amendments be adopted before they take effect.  Moreover, proposed IRS regulations state that any failure to satisfy this requirement results in all employee contributions to the FSA becoming taxable.  Perhaps recognizing the severity of this result, the IRS in Notice 2010-59 granted FSA sponsors an additional six months to adopt amendments designed to comply with this restriction.  That six-month extension expires on June 30, 2011.

A similar restriction applies to the reimbursement of expenses for OTC medications under health savings accounts (HSAs).  However, the consequences of non-compliance under such arrangements differ from those that apply under FSAs or HRAs.  Distributions from an individual’s HSA for OTC medications that are not prescribed by a physician are treated as “nonqualified” distributions.  They are therefore includible in the individual’s taxable income, and also subject to a 20% penalty tax.

All Sterling Health Services Administration Employers are in compliance.
No action is necessary on the part of Sterling Employers.

In amendments to their FSAs or HRAs, employers need to keep in mind several key points.  First, such an amendment should be retroactively effective as of January 1, 2011.  This date applies regardless of an arrangement’s plan year, and even if an FSA has been amended to take advantage of the two month “grace period” allowed by the IRS.  However, any expenses for OTC medications that were incurred before January 1, 2011, may still be reimbursed after that date, even without a prescription.

Another point to be addressed in any FSA or HRA amendment involves the treatment of OTC items other than medications.  Notice 2010-59 made clear that expenses for equipment (such as crutches), supplies (such as bandages), and diagnostic devices (such as blood sugar test kits) may still be reimbursed under an FSA or HRA, even without a prescription.  In other words, the prescription requirement applies only to OTC medications.

Finally, any amendment to an FSA or HRA that allows participants to use debit cards to purchase OTC medications should take into account additional IRS guidance.  For instance, Notice 2010-59 granted such arrangements an additional fifteen days (through January 15, 2011) to comply with the requirement of a physician’s prescription for an OTC medication.  IRS Notice 2011-5 then outlined specific procedures that must be followed if debit cards will continue to be an option for the purchase of OTC medications after January 15, 2011.  In general, these procedures are designed to ensure that these cards can be used to purchase OTC medications only after a prescription has been obtained.

As stated earlier, all Sterling Health Services Administration Employer clients are in compliance and no action is necessary on your part. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 800.617.4729.

January-February 2011 Webinar Schedule

Consumer directed health plans – HSAs, HRAs and FSAs – will continue to be very popular in 2011. To help our producer partners and clients better understand the benefits, Sterling Health Services Administration is sponsoring a free series of webinars that you can access at your convenience. We also offer free webinars on COBRA, another administration service provided by Sterling.

Sign up today for any of the webinars listed below. Each is one hour long, including a Q&A session at the end. Just email Chris.Bettner@SterlingHSA.com with your email address and the date and time of the webinar(s) you want to join. Attendance is limited to the first 50 participants for each webinar. Note that all times are Pacific.

Sterling Webinar Schedule

Date

Time

Topic

January 18

10:00 am

HSA

January 20

1:30 pm

HRA

January 25

10:00 am

FSA

January 27

1:30 pm

COBRA

February 1

10:00 am

HSA

February 3

1:30 pm

HRA

February 8

10:00 am

FSA

February 15

10:00 am

HSA

February 17

1:30 pm

HRA

February 22

10:00 am

FSA

February 24

1:30 pm

COBRA