On July 17, 2019, the IRS published Notice 2019-45, which expands the preventive care benefits that can be provided by a HDHP without affecting the HDHP participants’ HSA eligibility. As background, to be eligible to establish and contribute to an HSA, an individual must have qualifying HDHP coverage and no impermissible coverage. A qualified HDHP is one that does not provide benefits for any year until the minimum deductible for that year is satisfied. However, there is a safe harbor for the absence of a deductible for preventive care — so an HDHP can provide preventive care without causing an individual to lose HSA eligibility.
Previously, preventive care generally was not defined as including services or benefits aimed at treating existing illnesses, injuries, or conditions. However, a June 2019 executive order called for the IRS to amend those rules and allow for a change to that definition to include such existing illnesses, injuries, and conditions. One reason for this expansion is that failure to address these types of chronic conditions has been demonstrated to lead to consequences, such as amputation, blindness, heart attacks, and strokes, that require considerably more extensive medical intervention.
As a result of the executive order, the IRS published the new notice, which states that certain services and items that are used for chronic conditions are considered preventive care for purposes of HSA eligibility, when they are prescribed to prevent exacerbation of the diagnosed condition or the development of a secondary condition. The notice includes an appendix that lists 14 medical services or items for individuals with 11 specific chronic conditions (asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis and/or osteopenia, liver disease, depression, hypertension, bleeding disorders, and heart disease).
For example, insulin and other glucose lowering agents, retinopathy screening, glucometer and Hemoglobin A1c testing are now considered preventive care for individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Similarly, inhaled corticosteroids and peak flow meters are considered preventive care for individuals diagnosed with asthma.
The notice is clear that the listed services/items are considered preventive care only to the extent that they are used to treat the chronic conditions specified; if they are used to treat other conditions, then they are not considered preventive care. Also, the notice does not impact or change the definition of preventive care for purposes of the ACA’s preventive care mandate (the requirement to cover preventive care without cost-sharing).
The notice is effective immediately. The notice does not require HDHPs to cover all the conditions and treatments listed; but if they do, those services will be considered preventive care (and therefore wouldn’t adversely impact HSA eligibility). Employers will want to review any HDHP/HSA offerings to determine if changes are necessary.
Employers can wait until the next plan year to implement any changes (since it would require an amendment to the plan documents and employee communications). Employers should consider whether they want to cover all the conditions and treatments listed in the guidance, and whether they want to cover them at 100% (or add in cost-sharing, such as copayments or coinsurance). With those considerations in mind, employers should work with their advisor in determining next steps.
Notice 2019-45 »
News Release »