Understanding IRS Rules: The Importance of Substantiating Health FSA and DCAP Claims

Understanding IRS Rules: The Importance of Substantiating Health FSA and DCAP Claims

Introduction

In the realm of cafeteria plans, health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Dependent Care Assistance Programs (DCAPs) play a crucial role. However, the process of claim substantiation often raises questions among administrators. This blog post aims to shed light on the IRS rules regarding claim substantiation for health FSAs and DCAPs.

The Necessity of Claim Substantiation

According to IRS rules, all health FSA and DCAP claims must be substantiated. This substantiation requires information from an independent third party describing the service or product, the date of the service or sale, and the amount of the expense. These requirements are designed to ensure that health FSAs and DCAPs reimburse only legitimate claims.

The Role of Debit Card Programs

IRS rules regarding debit card programs also require that claims be substantiated and reviewed. However, certain categories of expenses are treated as automatically substantiated without any receipts or review beyond the swipe.

The Risk of Substantiation Shortcuts

Administrators might be tempted to engage in substantiation shortcuts such as reviewing only a percentage of claims (i.e., sampling) or automatically reimbursing claims that are below a “de minimis” dollar threshold or that appear to be from medical or dependent care providers. However, these actions could jeopardize the income exclusion that would otherwise apply to reimbursements from these arrangements under the Code. This could result in all reimbursements becoming taxable, not just those approved using the impermissible techniques.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

If a health FSA or DCAP fails to comply with applicable substantiation requirements, all employees’ elections between taxable and nontaxable benefits under the entire cafeteria plan will result in gross income. A March 2023 IRS Chief Counsel’s office memorandum reconfirms the substantiation requirements for medical and dependent care expenses, as well as the prohibition and consequences of sampling and other substantiation shortcuts.

While the process of claim substantiation might seem daunting, it is a necessary step to ensure the legitimacy of claims under health FSAs and DCAPs. Administrators must adhere to IRS rules and avoid substantiation shortcuts to maintain the tax benefits of these programs.

Source: Thomson Reuters

Understanding IRS Rules: The Importance of Substantiating Health FSA and DCAP Claims

IRS Reminder: Not All Health Expenses Qualify for Deductions

In a recent news release, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has reiterated important guidelines regarding the eligibility of health and wellness expenses for deductions and reimbursements under health Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs).

What Qualifies as a Medical Expense? According to the IRS, for an expense to be considered a medical expense under Code § 213, it must be directly related to the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or must affect the structure or function of the body. This definition excludes expenses that are solely for general health benefits.

The Risk of Nonmedical Reimbursements: The IRS warns that if health FSAs or other account-based health plans reimburse nonmedical expenses, it could result in all plan payments, including those for legitimate medical expenses, being included in participants’ taxable income.

Misleading Claims and the Importance of Diagnosis-Specific Documentation: The IRS has expressed concerns about companies misleading individuals by suggesting that a doctor’s note can transform general food and wellness expenses into medical expenses. However, without a clear connection to a diagnosis-specific treatment or activity, these expenses do not qualify as medical expenses.

Case in Point: The Denied Claim Highlighting the issue, the IRS shared an instance where an individual with diabetes was denied reimbursement for healthy food expenses through his health FSA. Despite obtaining a doctor’s note from a company that advertised such services, the claim was rejected because the food did not meet the criteria for a medical expense.

Guidance for Taxpayers: For those seeking clarity on what constitutes a reimbursable medical expense, the IRS points to its FAQs on nutrition, wellness, and general health expenses. These resources clarify that food or beverages purchased for health reasons, such as weight loss, can only be reimbursed if they do not fulfill normal nutritional needs, are used to alleviate or treat an illness, and are substantiated by a physician’s prescription.

Understanding the fine line between general wellness and medical care is crucial for taxpayers and plan administrators. As the IRS emphasizes, only expenses that meet the stringent criteria set forth in the Code will be considered for deductions and reimbursements, ensuring the integrity of health-related financial plans.

Source: Thomson Reuters

Understanding IRS Rules: The Importance of Substantiating Health FSA and DCAP Claims

Broker Builder Solutions Names NueSynergy a Preferred PartnerBroker

LEAWOOD, Kansas – NueSynergy, Inc., one of the nation’s fastest growing employee benefits and billing administrators in the country, is pleased to announce its preferred partnership with Broker Builder Solutions (BBS), a national leader in support services for the benefits and technology industry.

“NueSynergy is an industry partner that reflects our shared commitment to solution-oriented strategies for benefits brokers and Human Resource professionals within the employee benefits sector,” said Tonya Taylor, Marketing Leader and Client Relationship Liaison at BBS. This alliance leverages both teams’ expertise to educate clients and effectively provide solutions to their benefits administration and technology challenges. Our shared foundation of outgoing and professional staff is crucial in delivering excellence to the industry and the companies we serve. Through this collaboration, BBS looks forward to expanding our network of trusted benefits professionals.”

NueSynergy continues to achieve exceptional business results with innovative products like its SpouseSaver Incentive Account and COBRAcare+ administration. NueSynergy will work with BBS to offer agents and agencies a wide variety of administrative services for their new and existing employer clients.

“After investing heavily in technology and expansion of our overall infrastructure, NueSynergy has concentrated on partnering with well-known benefits leaders as we continue to expand our nationwide presence,” said Josh Collins, President of NueSynergy. “As we continue to focus on industry-leading service and expanding administration solutions for employers, we have found Broker Builder Solutions to be a natural fit in helping us build new broker and client relationships.”

About NueSynergy
NueSynergy is known for industry-leading service, innovative technology, and excellence in providing full-service administration of consumer-driven and traditional account-based plans to employers of all sizes and sectors. Headquartered in Leawood, Kansas, NueSynergy also has locations in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Rzeszów, Poland.

NueSynergy offers a fully integrated suite of administration services, which include Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Lifestyle Savings Account (LSA), and COBRAcare+ administration as well as SpouseSaver Incentive Account, Combined Billing, Direct Billing, and Specialty Solutions. For more information, visit www.NueSynergy.com.

About Broker Builder Solutions
Broker Builder Solutions is dedicated to assisting organizations with their benefits administration needs. Whether setting up a new benefits administration platform or maintaining/leveraging an existing platform, BBS can help. With over 15 years of benefit administration experience, the BBS team are experts in leveraging Ben Admin platforms to provide seamless implementations and carrier file transmissions. But their most important win is fostering positive and long-lasting relationships with all organizations across the benefits industry ecosystem.

BBS has expertise in Client Implementation, 834 EDI File Implementation, Carrier and Payroll Integrations,
Eligibility Maintenance Support, ACA Reporting, and Data Migration support for cross platform transitions.
For more information, visit www.brokerbuildersolutions.com.

Understanding IRS Rules: The Importance of Substantiating Health FSA and DCAP Claims

Agency RFI Focuses on No-Cost Coverage of OTC Preventive Products Without a Prescription

A DOL, HHS, and IRS request for information (RFI) is seeking input about how the preventive health services mandate applies to over-the-counter (OTC) preventive items and services, including the potential benefits and costs of requiring plans and insurers to cover these items at no cost without a provider’s prescription. Agency guidance has previously advised that OTC items and services generally must be covered without cost-sharing only when prescribed by a provider.

The RFI seeks information on current access to and utilization of OTC preventive products, as well as operational challenges for plans, insurers, third-party administrators, and pharmacy benefit managers. For instance, the request asks about operational challenges that may be associated with using telepharmacies and mail orders within and across states or localities. The agencies are also interested in “lessons learned” from providing coverage for OTC COVID-19 diagnostic tests during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The RFI explains that the agencies are particularly focused on OTC preventive care items that can be purchased without a prescription now or in the future, such as contraceptives, tobacco-cessation products, folic acid during pregnancy, and breastfeeding supplies.

Click here for the full request.

Source: Thomson Reuters

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