Friday, March 04, 2011

CMS, HRA and Alphabet Soup

One of the "alternative benefits" available to employers is a Health Reimbursement Arrangement. These can be set up a few different ways, but the key is that the contributions must come from the employer, not the employee, and that they must pass certain eligibility tests in order to maintain their tax advantaged status. The challenge is that, from year to year, rules change, employees come and go, and it can be an administrative headache, especially for a small employer.

This is why I always recommend "outsourcing" HRA admin functions to someone who knows what they're doing, and can help keep my clients on the straight and narrow.

Yesterday, I received an email from my own go-to choice for such services:

"There have been many questions surrounding the new CMS reporting requirements for HRAs. In an effort to keep everyone informed, we are sending the attached document in March to FlexBank clients for whom we administer HRAs. We are sending this to you first so that you will be aware of what your clients will be receiving."

That is, they know there are changes, they know what these changes mean to agents and their clients, and they're giving agents a heads' up. More importantly, the client now knows that there are changes and what these changes will mean to the bottom line.

Oh, and one more thing:

"CMS reporting is included in our administration fees. This is just one of the many value added services we provide."

If this sounds like a commercial for FlexBank, well, it is: it is a tremendous relief to me as a professional that I can refer my clients to someone that does this - and only this - all day long. And it gets better: I'm a client, too. FlexBank administers our agency's HRA, and my personal HSA.

Of course, not everyone has the privilege of living in southwest Ohio; for those who don't, I bet there's an independent, professional service like FlexBank in your area, and I'd very much recommend that you find them.

The sooner the better.
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