HSA Update for 2013

The IRS recently announced the health savings account rules and requirements for 2013.

The HSA contribution limits and out-of-pocket maximums have been increased. Also, the minimum required deductibles have increased.

2013 HSA Contribution Limits

  • Individuals (self-only coverage) - $3,250 (up $150 from 2012)
  • Family coverage - $6,450 (up $200 from 2012)

HDHP minimum required deductibles

  • $1,250 for self-only coverage
  • $2,500 for family coverage

Out-of-pocket maximum

(Out-of-pocket expenses include deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums)

  • $6,250 for self-only coverage
  • $12,500 for family coverage

If you use an HSA to pay for unqualified medical expenses, the tax penalty is 20 percent of the HSA distribution.

Background on Health Savings Accounts

A Health Savings Account, or HSA, is a financial account established by an individual or family to pay for qualified medical expenses.

U.S. federal regulations require citizens to have a minimum deductible on their health insurance from all sources in order to make tax-deductible contributions to their Health Savings Accounts (HSA).

HSAs combine the benefits of both traditional and Roth 401(k)s and IRAs for medical expenses. Taxpayers receive a 100% income tax deduction on annual contributions, they may withdraw HSA funds tax-free to reimburse themselves for qualified medical expenses, and they may defer taking such reimbursements indefinitely without penalties.

HSAs are unique with triple tax advantages:

  1. Tax-deductible contributions,
  2. Tax-free accumulation of interest and dividends tax-free, and
  3. Tax-free distributions for qualified medical expenses.

Contact IBD for more information.

Simple Steps to Improve Sleep

Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep? March 5-11 is National Sleep Awareness Week—take this opportunity to learn healthy habits to improve sleep and reduce fatigue.

Symptoms and Risks of Fatigue

If you are tired, you are more prone to mood changes, loss of energy and appetite, headaches, and a lack of motivation and concentration. In addition, fatigue can hurt your job productivity or create a safety hazard.

Fatigue can also contribute to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and diabetes.

 

Get Better Sleep

·   Make it a priority to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

·   Keep a regular sleep schedule—even on weekends.

·   Make sure your bedroom is quiet, sufficiently dark and a comfortable temperature.

·   Try activities that help you relax before bed, such as reading or listening to relaxing music.

Adopt Healthy Habits

·   Eat nutritiously and avoid big meals right before bed.

·   Exercise regularly, but also not close to bedtime.

·   Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, and avoid nicotine altogether.

For a Quick Energy Boost

·   Eat a snack with complex carbohydrates and protein, like an energy bar or half a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread.

·   Take a short walk.

·   Try to vary your day or routine when you start feeling tired.

·   Have a mini-meditation session at your workstation.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 2012 marks the 63rd anniversary of National Children’s Dental Health Month. If you have a baby or toddler, you may have questions about thumb sucking, your child’s first dental visit or how and when to clean your child’s teeth. This annual observance is a great time for parents to learn more about ways to prevent early childhood caries (or cavities), when to expect changes from primary to permanent teeth, and how to teach proper brushing and flossing techniques.


Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime and a healthy smile is important to a child’s esteem and proper dental hygiene is essential to good health. With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, their teeth can remain healthy and strong.


Attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health throughout life. By participating in the annual celebration, we can all help to keep children’s smiles beautiful now and for years to come.


“Give Kids a Smile!” is the annual centerpiece of the observance. During February, many of the nation’s dentists and other volunteers will provide free oral health care services to low-income children. In addition to helping children in need, “Give Kids a Smile” highlights for policymakers the ongoing challenges that disadvantaged children face in accessing dental care.


The American Dental Association held the first observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949 to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. The observance became a weeklong event in 1955 and was extended to a month-long celebration in 1981.

Ease Stress to Improve Heart Health

February is Heart Month, sponsored by the American Heart Association. This month, focus on reducing your stress, which can improve your heart health and lower your risk of heart disease.


Did you know that the heart and brain have a significant connection and impact on each other in your body?


Due to this, mental health can have a dramatic effect on heart health, and vice versa.


When you experience stress, which is a response in your brain, the body responds by increasing:


·      Blood pressure


·      Respiratory rate


·      Heart rate


·      Oxygen consumption


·      Blood flow to skeletal muscles


If you experience frequent stress, you are putting your body at an increased risk for heart disease.


How do you combat stress? There are many strategies and techniques for reducing stress in your life:


·      Meditate. Try sitting down in a quiet, comfortable room, and focusing your attention on one word, phrase or image in your mind. Repeat this thing over and over, refocusing if your mind wanders.


·      Read a book or listen to calming music.


·      Exercise. Getting your blood pumping is an excellent way to relieve stress, and is also great for your heart.


·      Eat nutritiously—don’t turn to junk food, alcohol or tobacco. Healthy food will energize you, while other options have negative effects on your body.


·      Confide in a loved one.


·      When feeling overwhelmed, plan and prioritize instead of trying to tackle everything at once. Also try taking a break from the situation.

Holiday Stress: Eating Healthy

Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s bring to mind thoughts of family, friends, fun and food. However, each year, millions of Americans struggle to maintain their waistlines during the holidays while surrounded by tempting holiday treats.


Holiday Parties


By following the healthy tips below, you will be on your way to enjoying all your holiday parties, while also staying in control of your eating. For example:


·   Do not leave the house on an empty stomach – it promotes overeating.


·   Avoid standing near the food table, a sure-fire way to overindulge.


·   Make socializing your top priority; conversation will keep you occupied and away from the food.


·   Limit your drinking; alcohol increases hunger and lowers willpower.


·   Offer a low-calorie alternative; for example, if you have volunteered to bring a dessert, bring fruit rather than a cheesecake.


·   Listen to your stomach; reduce your portion sizes and stop eating when you feel satisfied rather than stuffed.


 


Cooking and Baking


If you are the one hosting, use that to your advantage – it puts you in control of what will be served. For example, substitute high-fat or calorie-laden ingredients with more healthy choices, such as using an egg substitute rather than a whole egg. There can also be a downfall when it comes to hosting: the temptation to sample the food while you are preparing it. To help you resist the urge to snack while cooking:


·   Keep your mouth occupied with a piece of sugar-free gum or sip tea to reduce your urge to sample while you cook.


·   Prepare foods on a full stomach. You will not be as tempted to taste what you are making.


 


Cocktails and Beverages


Before you reach for the eggnog, remember that some mixed drinks may have as many calories as a dessert. It’s okay to indulge in some holiday spirits, but keep the following suggestions in mind:


·   Pace yourself; drink water or seltzer between drinks. The more you drink, the more the temptation to snack increases.


·   Try ice water with lemon or non-caffeinated soft drinks.


·   Consume mixed drinks with diet soda, club soda or tonic when possible.


 


 


Don’t abandon health habits or feel pressured to eat and drink more than ususal just because of the holidays. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, exercise and plan your meals ahead of time. It will help you make it through the holidays feeling satisfied and in control.

Healthy Meals on a Budget

Eating healthy on a limited budget may seem impossible, but with a little time, planning and strategic shopping, you can eat healthier and stay within your means.

 

Importance of planning

 

Planning your meals for the week is the best place to start. Planning will help you make sure you are including foods from each food group – pay special attention to serving enough fruits and vegetables in family meals. Also, it helps you achieve a healthy balance – for instance, if you plan to serve a food higher in fat or salt, you can plan low-fat or low-salt foods to go with it.

 

In addition, planning saves time and money. Making a shopping list helps you know what food you already have, and what food you need – and helps avoid pricey “impulse” buys. Plus, planning your meals means fewer trips to the grocery store and helps you make use of leftover food and ingredients.

 

      Planning tips

 

·         Build the main part of your meal around rice, noodles or other grains. Use smaller amounts of meat, poultry, fish or eggs.

·         Add variety to family favorites and try new, low-cost recipes. There are many online resources for finding healthy recipes.

·         Try new ways to cook foods, such as a slow cooker or crock-pot, to make meals easier to prepare.

·         Make use of leftovers to save time and money. For instance, if you make a pot roast, serve half of it and freeze the rest to use later in a casserole.

 

Tips for shopping

 

·         After planning your meals, make a list of all the foods you need (don’t forget to check the kitchen first!)

·         Look for coupons for the foods you plan to buy.

·         Avoid convenience foods (fancy baked goods, frozen meals, etc.) – you can usually make these at home much cheaper, and can control the nutritional value as well.

·         Try store brands. They cost less and generally taste as good and have equal nutritional value.

·         When buying produce, buy what is in season. Compare fresh, frozen and canned to see which is cheapest.

·         Buy only the amount of a food that your family will eat before it spoils, to prevent waste.

·         Read food labels and choose foods with less fat, sodium or calories, and more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

 

 

National Prevention Strategy

On June 10, 2010 the President signed an Executive Order creating the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council. The National Prevention Council, chaired by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, is charged with providing coordination and leadership at the federal level and among all executive departments and agencies with respect to prevention, wellness and health promotion practices. With input from the public and interested stakeholders, the National Prevention Council is charged with developing a National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy (National Prevention Strategy). The National Prevention Strategy was released on June 16, 2011.

The National Prevention Strategy provides an unprecedented opportunity to shift the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention. It will present a vision, goals, recommendations and action items that public, private, nonprofit organizations and individuals can take to reduce preventable death, disease and disability in the United States. To view the National Prevention Strategy click here.

IBD will continue to keep you informed about developments in healthcare on the State and Federal level. Contact us with any questions.

IRS Increases Health Savings Account Limits

On May 17, 2011, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released IRS Notice 2011-32, which makes changes to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) effective for calendar year 2012. The notice makes changes to:

    Annual contribution limitations for single and family coverage; and

    Maximum out-of-pocket employee expense for single and family coverage under a high deductible health plan.

This article provides a summary of IRS Notice 2011-32.

2012 HSA CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

An employee must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) in order to qualify for an HSA. Under IRS Revenue Procedure 2011-32, an individual with single coverage under an HDHP may make up to $3,100 in deductible contributions to his or her HSA, up from $3,050 in 2011. An individual with family coverage under an HDHP may make up to $6,250 in annual deductible contributions, up from $6,150 in 2011.

2012 OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSE LIMITS

The maximum out-of-pocket employee expense under an HDHP, including deductibles, will increase next year to $6,050 for single coverage, up from $5,950 in 2011. For family coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket employee expense will increase to $12,100 next year, from $11,900 in 2011. The out-of-pocket expense does not include insurance premiums.

DEDUCTIBLES

The deductibles under an HDHP must be at least $1,200 for single coverage and $2,400 for family coverage. These deductibles were not increased from the 2011 requirements and will remain the same for the 2012 calendar year.

EFFECTIVE DATE

These new limits are effective for calendar year 2012.

MORE INFORMATION

For a copy of IRS Notice 2011-32, see www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-11-32.pdf.

Congress Repeals 1099 Reporting Requirements

On April 5, 2011, the Senate voted to repeal the Form 1099 tax reporting requirement that was included in last year’s health care reform law. The Senate passed the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011 (H.R. 4) by a vote of 87-12, showing overwhelming support for the repeal. The House of Representatives previously passed H.R. 4 on March 4, 2011, by a vote of 112-15. The repeal measure was supported by the White House and is expected to be signed by President Obama. 

The repeal of this unpopular provision is the first successful effort to roll back part of the health care reform law. Business groups opposed the requirement and its expected administrative burden, which led to both Republicans and Democrats targeting the provision for repeal. 

Background

The Form 1099 tax reporting requirement was created by Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Although not directly related to health care, it was originally designed to raise money for the health care reform plan as well as improve tax compliance.

Specifically, the mandate required businesses to file a Form 1099 for any company from which it bought more than $600 in goods or services in a single year. This requirement was scheduled to go into effect in 2012. It was anticipated to increase both paperwork and accounting costs for businesses and landlords. Repeal of this tax provision is now expected to save time, money and resources.

Covering the Cost

Although both parties have been trying to repeal the Form 1099 provision for several months, previous attempts were unsuccessful because Congress could not agree on how to pay for the repeal. Eliminating the Form 1099 reporting requirement is estimated to cost $22 billion in lost revenue.

Congress has agreed to make up for the shortfall by adjusting health insurance tax subsidies for middle-income individuals provided by PPACA. H.R. 4 will now require greater repayment of subsidy amounts for families whose income unexpectedly exceeds applicable thresholds.

IBD Insurance will continue to update you on developments related to the health care reform legislation.

Seasonal Allergies

While the winter months typically provide some relief for allergy sufferers, spring is here – and so are the allergies associated with this seasonal change. Mold growth blooms indoors and out with spring rains. As flowers, trees and grasses begin to blossom, allergies will follow. And spring cleaning activities can stir up dust mites, so here are some tips:

·         Wash your bedding every week in hot water to keep pollen under control.

·         Shower before going to bed, since pollen and other allergens can accumulate in your hair throughout the day.

·         Wear a painter’s mask when cleaning or vacuuming to limit dust and chemical inhalation.

·         Change air conditioning and heating air filters at least every 3 months.

·         Limit the number of throw rugs in your home to reduce dust and mold. If you do have throw rugs, consider washing them once a week or vacuuming twice a week.