Experient Health Helps Explain IRS Guidance on Cafeteria Plan Elections For Same-Sex Spouses

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On Dec. 16, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service released a notice that provided guidance on employee benefit plan elections for same-sex spouses following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Experient Health has experienced professionals who help guide individuals through buying an Individual Health Insurance Plan.

On Dec. 16, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2014-1, which provided guidance on employee benefit plan elections for same-sex spouses following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Experient Health recently published, in its Blog series on health care reform and health insurance regulations and rules, further explanation on the DOMA notice. Experient Health, the health insurance arm of the Virginia Farm Bureau, launched a Blog series earlier this year to help keep families, employers and individuals informed about changes in the health insurance industry and health care reform.

The DOMA notice addressed how the Supreme Court’s ruling affects the participation of same-sex spouses in cafeteria plans, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).

The DOMA decision, made June 26, 2013, in U.S. v. Windsor by the Supreme Court, struck down the section of DOMA that prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of federal law. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples who are legally married under state law are entitled to equal treatment under federal law with regard to income taxes and federal benefits.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, employees’ same-sex spouses were not allowed to receive tax-free health care coverage through an employer’s cafeteria plan.

Employees who elected coverage for their same-sex spouses through an employer-sponsored health plan were required to pay for the coverage on an after-tax basis.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, an employee’s same-sex spouse may receive benefits through an employer’s cafeteria plan.

"The ruling raised questions for employers about whether employees could make changes to their cafeteria plan elections based on the new rights under the tax code," Experient Health wrote.

The DOMA notice provided, among other items, the following guidance on permissible mid-year election changes.

  • A cafeteria plan may permit a participant who marries a same-sex spouse after the date of the Court’s decision (June 26, 2013) to make a mid-year election change due to a change in legal marital status.
  • A cafeteria plan may permit a participant who was married to a same-sex spouse as of June 26, 2013, to make a mid-year election change as if the participant experienced a change in legal marital status.

Read more about the DOMA notice and its implications for same-sex spouses in the Experient Health Blog.

ABOUT EXPERIENT HEALTH:

For years, Experient Health, a Virginia Farm Bureau company, has helped people find the right insurance coverage and get the most for their health care dollars. The Richmond, Va.-based group is dedicated to providing high quality health insurance options to customers in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. As a result, its consultants, with an average of more than 20 years experience, are intimately familiar with the states’ provider networks, products and regulations.

Representing the top national insurance carriers, Experient Health provides customers with multiple policy options designed to meet wellness needs and financial requirements.

Experient Health grew out of Virginia Farm Bureau and is a “hometown agency” in that it operates a network of more than 100 offices. However, it boasts the resources and technology of larger firms.

Consultants are available online, via phone and through their offices.

Learn more at http://www.experienthealth.com, utilize the online health insurance quote calculator or contact a consultant directly at 855.677.6580.

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Stephanie Heinatz
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Brad Spence
Experient Health
since: 04/2013
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