Posts Tagged ‘Human Resource Professionals’

Health Savings Accounts – 3 Situations Human Resources Professionals Should Know

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The post below is a guest blog from Dax Hill who serves as the Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

So, you’ve just gotten through your benefits open enrollment and you signed up for your company’s health savings account (HSA). You probably decided to take part because you know about the triple tax savings advantages of HSAs:

  1. Your money goes in tax free
  2. It grows tax free and
  3. It comes out tax free (when used for qualified medical expenses)

 Ultimately, most people who enroll in an HSA understand the basics:

  1. An HSA is used in conjunction with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
  2.  An HDHP is a medical plan that has a high deductible that you must pay fully before the insurance company pays its first dollar of coverage.
  3. For an individual, the maximum amount you can contribute to an HSA is $3,100 for 2012.
  4. For more than one covered life, the maximum HSA contribution amount is $6,250 this year.
  5. The tax-free money you deposit into the HSA must be used to reimburse qualified medical expenses.

That’s pretty straightforward. But, as an HR professional, you may find yourself in one of the following situations where the basics simply aren’t enough.

Here are 3 “what if” scenarios that might not have been covered during your enrollment:

1)“I am covered under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with employee plus spouse coverage.  My spouse is also covered under a PPO plan (not a HDHP).  How much can I contribute to my 2012 HSA?”

In this scenario, the individual may contribute the $6,250 tax free.  The contribution amount is based on the coverage election (employee plus spouse), even though the spouse has non- HDHP coverage. 

2) “I am covered under an HDHP and my husband is covered under Medicare. Can my spouse be covered under my HDHP?  And, if so, can I can use my HSA to reimburse medical expenses for my spouse?” 

In this situation, the individual spouse can participate in the HDHP.  In addition: 

For Medicare premiums:  The HSA can reimburse Medicare premiums if the account holder is 65 or older, but cannot be used to reimburse Medicare supplement policy premiums.  So, the employee could use her HSA money to reimburse for her spouse’s Medicare premiums as long as the employee is age 65 or older.  Otherwise, the Medicare premiums cannot be reimbursed tax-free.

Other Section 213(d) qualified expenses:  The employee can reimburse her spouse’s qualified medical expenses even if the spouse has Medicare, provided that the expense has not already been reimbursed by Medicare or other insurance.  So, once Medicare pays the expense, any remaining portion unpaid could be reimbursed by the HSA.  

3)“Can I use my HSA account for my children if they are not covered under my HDHP Plan?”

Yes, you can reimburse the children’s qualified medical expenses provided that the children are Section 152 tax dependents and the expense has not been reimbursed by other insurance.  So, once the insurance policy pays the expense, any remaining portion unpaid could be reimbursed by the HSA. 

A section 152 tax dependent for a child is generally defined as a child who is under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least five months of the year. In addition, the dependent could be permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year and qualify under section 152.

Confusing tax codes, contribution limits and other factors can sometimes make simple concepts more difficult to understand. What questions have you had regarding your employer’s benefits plans?

Telecommuting – How Will It Impact Your Company From an HR Standpoint?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Early morning wake-up calls, clocking in, clocking out and office cubicles have been the norm for working Americans, but as technology continues to grow, so do the number of Americans who no longer make the morning commute. Recently even President Obama expressed his support for telecommuting programs.  Although the idea of working from home may sound like an employee’s dream, it’s vital to fully assess the pros and cons before incorporating such a program into your company policy.

Since a comfortable, flexible working environment is recognized by potential employees as one of the most important aspects of job choice, telecommuting applied appropriately can be used advantageously by Human Resources professionals. By providing the option to telecommute, companies offer employees a career that fits their lifestyles and can stand out among the competition.

How can your company achieve the best of both worlds and allow employees a flexible schedule with the option to work from home, while still producing the same results as if they were operating in-house? Consider the following, and make sure the benefits are equal for both your employees and your company.

Employee availability – Consider parents who start with an early morning and shut down their computers when their children return home from school. Guidelines allowing such flexibility need to be clear – the hours of availability should be concrete and unchanging  for reasons of dependability and accountability.

Virtual communication –Company meetings can still run cohesively without constant face-to-face communication through the comparable use of video conferencing, Skype and other advanced technology.

Distractions – While the office is used for the sole purpose of accomplishing company work,  those working in an environment used for sleeping, eating and relaxation must have a higher level of discipline. Character evaluation is imperative before considering telecommuting. Employees who are trustworthy, time-oriented, focused and who work without constant monitoring prove to be strong candidates.

Maintaining office relationships – Creative, original and innovative ideas are often developed through  collaboration, so the last thing any company wants is for its employees to operate as noncommunicative islands. With staff not interacting on a day-to-day basis, it’s critical to coordinate events, gatherings or lunches, to maintain a team mentality.

Maintaining company security – When employees have the opportunity to access company content from home, you must  provide additional IT protection to staff computers and servers to assure private information is monitored and inaccessible to outsiders.

With the proper protection, procedures and policies in place, many companies see a significant drop in overhead expenses and increased employee satisfaction from incorporating telecommuting. As with any change, it’s important to recognize that telecommuting can only be as successful as the individuals who execute the process. If your company chooses to establish a telecommuting program, plan efficiently, monitor productivity and avoid miscommunication issues.

For additional information, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: richardmasoner