DoL Issues HSA Guidance

April 7, 2004 ( - Federal officials on Wednesday put out some guidance on the new Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), including the extent to which they will be considered as welfare plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DoL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) indicated that while private-sector employer-sponsored High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)s are group health plans subject to ERISA’s reporting, disclosure, fiduciary responsibility and other requirements, HSAs generally will not constitute ERISA-covered plans.

The guidance also clarifies that an employer can make contributions to the HSA of an eligible employee without being considered to have established or maintained the HSA as an ERISA-covered plan, provided that the employer’s involvement with the HSA is limited.  

HSAs are designed to help individuals pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified health expenses on a tax-free basis.   To be eligible for an HSA, an individual must be covered by a HDHP.

The FAB is available at .