Three takeaways from the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation annual conference
UMB Bank has a long-standing history with the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation’s (ECFC) board of directors. Phil Mason, executive vice president, director of healthcare services is on the board and acts as an advocate to enact change and make a difference in people’s lives. The board of directors recently went to Capitol Hill for a virtual visit to discuss their priorities for the year with members of Congress. Phil shares his experience.
ECFC is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping advocate for employees and employers to have freedom of choice within the healthcare benefits marketplace and preserve and expand those benefits. As board members, we advocate for more choices when it comes to health care accounts to help individuals pay for medical expenses with pre-tax dollars and act as retirement accounts in the future, providing a option similar to a 401(k). This is something I am passionate about, these accounts can make a difference in people’s lives both today and in the future.
Throughout recent years, ECFC has been extremely instrumental in shaping policy. In fact, a few of the issues that the organization has been advocating for were recently signed into law through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As of now, ECFC member companies assist in the administration of insurance plans and health benefits for over 33 million American workers.
Every year, the ECFC board of directors goes to Washington, D.C. to talk with Congress and push for health care savings options. This year, we met with members of Congress virtually about our top three priorities:
Improvements to HSAs
Out-of-pocket healthcare costs are rising for American workers. In fact, the average premium for family healthcare coverage has increased 22% over the last five years and has climbed 55% from 2010 to 2020, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation‡. That is more than double the rise in wages or inflation. Health savings accounts could be a useful tool for people to combat these costs. To allow more people access to these accounts, we are pushing Congress to:
- Allow Medicare beneficiaries to participate in an HSA
- Allow people who are eligible to receive healthcare benefits from the Indian Health Service (IHS) to participate in HSAs. ISH provides healthcare for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Allow individuals who are enrolled in Tricare, a health care program designed for service members, retirees and their families to participate in an HSA
- Allow individuals who are eligible to receive medical care from Veteran’s Affairs to participate in an HSA
Increasing the contribution limitation on Dependent Care Assistance Programs
We are also pushing Congress to permanently increase the contribution limit set by the American Rescue Plan. This increase was made temporary due to COVID-19 pandemic, and we believe the previous $5,000 annual election limit per family is outdated. This number was set in 1986 and has not been adjusted for inflation, and is now insufficient to cover families’ child and elderly care expenses. The American Rescue Plan raised this limit to $10,500 for 2021 only and we are asking that this limit be extended.
Include personal protective equipment and sanitizers in definition of qualified medical expenses during the pandemic
Although we have all had to buy face masks, hand sanitizers and more disinfectants, it is still unclear whether these items are considered “qualified medical expenses” when it comes to medical reimbursement. If these items don’t qualify, it may prevent reimbursement for people with a flexible spending account, health reimbursement arrangement or a health savings account. One of our priorities for the year is enacting legislation that makes these items qualify.
We hope these priorities help alleviate some of the healthcare costs for individuals and families as well as bring educational value to members of Congress every year.
Learn more about UMB Healthcare Services, which ranks fifth in total accounts and seventh in total deposit and investment assets among all HSA providers (Source: 2020 ‡Year-end HSA Market Statistics & Trends Report‡).
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