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02/Feb/2023

When an individual has a Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) account, they have the option to either self-administer the funds or have them professionally administered.  If self-administration is chosen, it can be a difficult and trying task to comply with the CMS’ rules; opening a MSA checking account, learning what type of expenses can be paid and cannot be paid out, coordinating health insurance benefits, keeping accurate records, and when to send reporting to CMS.  This blog will discuss what you need to know if you choose Self-Administration.

What is Self-Administration?

Self-administration is the process of managing the medical portion of your settlement, compromise and release, judgment, award or other payment/arrangement (“Settlement”) arising from an incident on the job and/or due to the negligence of another party. After a settlement, the individual is responsible for paying the medical claims following the process and guidelines set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services until the funds have been permanently depleted.

What is Professional Administration? 

Professional administration is the practice of using a qualified third party to oversee and manage funds for future medical expenses following a liability or Workers’ Compensation settlement. Though not required, Medicare strongly suggests the professional administration of a MSA. However, for those who choose self-administration, the individual is still responsible for using their WCMSA account to pay for injury-related and Medicare covered expenses in accordance with the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Statute. The MSP provisions protect Medicare Trust Funds by ensuring that Medicare does not pay for items and services that certain health insurance or coverage, such as a MSA account, is primarily responsible for paying.

Two Ways to Fund Your WCMSA Account

Before the settlement has occurred, the settling parties will discuss the ways a MSA account can be funded. Typically, there are two options:
  1. Lump-Sum – a single lump sum payment to fund your MSA account.
  2. Structured Settlement Annuity Funding – an initial deposit to fund your account and smaller annual deposits in the following years. The initial deposit covers the first two years of annual funding for treatments plus any cost for proposed first surgeries. If the MSA funds are not spent down in a given year, the funds must remain in the account and carry forward into the next year.

Establishing a Self-Administration Bank Account

Below is a list of CMS’ requirements regarding opening up a separate bank account for the MSA funds.
  • Deposit WCMSA funds into its own account, separate from any other accounts you may have
  • The account must earn interest and the interest must stay in the account
  • The account should be insured by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • Choose a bank or an account that does not charge fees if you have a low balance
  • Select an account that allows you to write checks

 

Know What Is Covered

It is important to recognize that not every medical bill or service can be paid out of the MSA account. For individuals self-administering their account, it is highly important to be aware of qualified expenses. Below is a partial list of the expenses that can and cannot be paid out of the account:

Expenses That Can Be Paid

  • Funds can only be used to pay for future care that is Medicare covered and related to your injury.
  • Cost of copying documents
  • Mailing fees/postage
  • Any banking fees related to the account
  • Paying income tax on the interest income earned in the account*
*Note – The MSA funds are not considered taxable income, but the interest earned is taxable. Each year your bank will issue an IRS 1099-INT form for the interest earned in the account.

Expenses That Cannot Be Paid

  • Fees for trustees, custodians, or other professionals hired to help administer the account
  • Expenses for administration of the MSA other than those listed above
  • Attorney costs for establishing the MSA
  • Cannot use to purchase a Medicare supplemental insurance policy or a Medigap policy
  • Medicare premiums, co-payments, and deductibles
  • Acupuncture
  • Routine dental care
  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aides
For a more extensive list of what Medicare will pay, click here to obtain a copy of the free handbook “Medicare & You”.

Keep Accurate Records of All Transactions

Bank statements, receipts, and tax records should all be kept and recorded.  Self-administering parties will not need to submit these records annually, but Medicare may request them as proof that the account is being used correctly. It is also recommended that settlement documents showing the date the case was settled, diagnosed injury, and date of injury are also kept. Consider keeping accurate records for each transaction such as:
  • Transaction date
  • Check number
  • “Payable to” or provider’s name
  • Date of service
  • Description – procedure, service or item received, deposit, interest, other allowable expenses
  • Amount paid
  • Deposit amount
  • Account balance
  • Interest earned

What is Coordination of Benefits for a WCMSA?

The MSP program is in place to ensure that Medicare is aware of situations where it should not be the primary payer of claims.  Sometimes a Medicare beneficiary with a MSA account, public benefits, and other health insurance; the Coordination of Benefits (COB) rule decides which entity should pay first on a claim. In certain situations, if Medicare has paid a claim by mistake, CMS will take action to receive the mistaken Medicare payment.

What is the WCMSA Attestation?

If the WCMSA proposal was approved, CMS requires the attestation form to be signed, attesting that the injured party has used the account correctly and to report the amounts spent. If Medicare is satisfied that the right amount of money has been spent appropriately, Medicare will pay for future treatments for this work injury. Below is the information found on the attestation form.
  • Total spent for medical services
  • Total spent for prescription drugs
  • Grand total of expenditures
  • Total of interest income the account earned if any
  • Balance of WCMSA account at the end of the calendar year

Annual Attestation or Expenditure Letters Reporting

CMS’ Benefit Coordination & Records Center (BCRC) is responsible for monitoring and receiving the submitted attestations forms. The attestation informs Medicare that they are now primary payer when your funds have exhausted.  Note, once the account funds are exhausted you must continue to pay your Medicare monthly premiums, co-pays, and deductibles in order for Medicare to pay your claims. CMS has the right to demand and receive a complete accounting of payments made from the account at its discretion. The following only applies if the WCMSA proposal has been approved by CMS.
  • Annual Attestations must be submitted every year, no later than 30 days after the end of each reporting period (beginning one year from the date of establishment of the WCMSA account). Annual attestations should continue through final exhaustion of the account.
  • Temporary Exhaustion occurs when the WCMSA account funds have exhausted before the next annuity has been deposited into the account.
  • Final Depletion or Permanent Exhaustion is where the WCMSA account has no money left and no future deposits of funds are expected.
  • Death Occurs / Inheritance before the WCMSA account is permanently exhausted you will need to notify the BCRC of death. This may require the WCMSA account to stay open for some time to pay outstanding claims.
  • Completely Exhausted within 60 days of the date the WCMSA account is depleted, send the BCRC a final attestation that the account is ‘Completely Exhausted”.
  • Loses Medicare Entitlement
  • Re-Establishes Medicare Entitlement

How to Submit Your Attestation to CMS’ BCRC

  1. Electronical Attestation is a Medicare web portal that allows submission of either yearly or final attestations electronically. For more information about how to submit an attestation electronically, please see the WCMSAP User Guide.
  2. Mail-in Submission / Paper Copy

WCMSA Proposal/Final Settlement
PO Box 138899
Oklahoma City, OK 73113-8899

  1. Call BCRC

855-798-2627 or TTY/TDD
855-787-2627 for the hearing and speech impaired
Opened: Monday – Friday, from 8am – 8pm | Eastern Time

Medivest’s Solutions

If handling a Self-Administrated account becomes too difficult of a task, Medivest can help. We provide the following options that may reduce the burden of keeping track of the details:
1. Switch to Medivest’s Professional Administration Service
For over 25 years, Medivest has been helping clients navigate the complexities of the MSP and protecting their Medicare benefits. Our services guarantee the most comprehensive and cost-effective professional administration program available and provides:
  • Streamlined reporting and compliance
  • Savings on treatment, equipment, and pharmaceuticals
  • Expert support and service
2. Purchase Medivest’s Self-Administration Kit
Medivest offers a Self-Administration Kit that equips individuals who opt to manage their own Worker’ Compensation or Liability settlement with many of the tools and services available to Professionally Administers settlements. The Medivest Self-Administration Kit has been designed to give the individual the flexibility in determining just how “hands-on” they wish to be in managing their medical funds, while providing to the settling parties the piece of mind that comes from knowing due diligence has been considered.   Below are the services that are included Medivest’s Self-Administration Kit Services:
  • Detailed Booklet
  • Unlimited Phone
  • Medical Bill Review
  • Pharmacy and Durable Medical & Equipment (DME) Discounts

 

For additional information regarding Medivest’s Professional Administration Services or Self-Administration Kits or to get started with one of these options today call us at 877.725.2467 or contact us here.

 


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19/Dec/2022

It is getting close to that time of year when mailboxes begin to receive W-2 statements and 1099-INT statements.  If an injured individual has either a Self-Administered Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) account or a Professionally-Administered MSA account, the individual will be sent a 1099-INT by January 31st and a copy will be filed with the IRS. The 1099-INT shows interest earned in the account during the previous tax year.
Liability and Workers Compensations cases should follow the Workers Compensation Medicare Set-Aside (WCMSA)Reference Guide, until CMS publishes a Liability Medicare Set-Aside (LMSA) Reference Guide.  Until then, the WCMSA Reference Guide should be considered a single point of reference for Liability and Workers Compensation cases. To download the WCMSA Reference Guide Version 3.8, Dated November 14, 2022, click here.

 

What the WCMSA Reference Guide states:

  • MSA funds must be placed in an interest-bearing account that is separate from the individual’s personal savings and checking accounts.
  • The interest must be deposited into the MSA account to be used for MSA-covered expenses.
  • You can use the MSA account to pay for the income tax on the interest income.
For further clarification regarding how the individual can pay for the taxes from the interest incomed earned in their account, refer to the CMS Memo Dated July 11, 2005, Subject:  Medicare Secondary Payer (MPS) – Workers’ Compensation (WC) Additional Frequency Asked Questions.
“Q6. Treatment of Taxable Interest Income Earned on a WCMSA – If I receive a Form 1099-INT for the interest income earned on my WCMSA account, may I charge the income tax on that amount against the WCMSA?
A6. Assuming that there is adequate documentation for the amount of incremental tax that the claimant must pay for the interest earned on this set-aside account, the claimant or his/her administrator may withdraw an amount equal to the additional tax as a “cost that is directly related to the account” to cover the additional tax liability. Such documentation should be submitted along with the annual accounting.”

 

How Medivest Handles the 1099-INT:

Medivest will advise the Member to prepare his/her tax return two ways to determine the increased income tax burden, if any:
  1. Include the MSA interest income in the income tax return
  2. Exclude the MSA interest income in the income tax return
In other words, if the Member must pay the IRS an increased income tax amount as a result of the interest earned from their MSA account, the additional income tax burden can be paid from the MSA account.  This is considered a cost associated with having the MSA account and CMS allows this expense to be paid from the MSA account.  Once a year, Medivest will send CMS an attestation for every applicable professionally-administered MSA account.  Any MSA reimbursement of the additional income tax burden will be included in this attestation.

 

Answers to Common Questions

Question 1.  If I am taxed on the earned interest, why can’t I have it?
Answer 1.  CMS’ guidelines state that Medicare Set-Aside funds place must be placed into an interest-bearing account and are to be used for covered medical expenses.
Question 2.  Why do I have to report the earned interest to the IRS?
Answer 2.   Per IRS guidelines, all interest income is taxable, unless specifically excluded.
Question 3.  Isn’t my injury settlement tax-exempt?
Answer 3.  Any compensation you receive from a settlement because of physical injuries or sickness is not taxable.   However, the interest earned after the settlement occurs is taxable.

 

Best Practices

Medivest’s highly trained representatives can help you figure out if Medicare may have an interest in your settlement. We assist all settling parties to navigate the MSP complexities and provide you with cost-saving strategies for your settlement. For questions about your account or setting up a new professional administration account please contact us here.

 


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20/Nov/2019

Are you self-administering your Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) funds or do you have a client doing so? If so, you are not alone. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) recently published a research brief updating its 2014 study on Workers’ Compensation MSAs (WCMSAs) and WCMSA reviews and reported that, between 2010 and 2015, approximately ninety-eight percent (98%) of the Workers’ Compensation cases included in the over 10,000 case sample, settled with the injured worker choosing to self-administer their MSA funds. Due to the large percentage of injured workers opting to self-administer, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a free downloadable, 31-page “Self-Administration Toolkit”, now in Version 1.3 which was updated on October 10, 2019.

If you’re a Claimant/Applicant/Petitioner’s attorney settling a WC case and your client is considering self-administration, below are a couple of blogs you may consider reading before deciding if self-administration is the best option.

CMS simply states that a competent administrator must be chosen to administer the MSA funds. The key word is competent, and it is the responsibility of the settling parties to deem whether the injured person is sufficiently competent to self-administer an MSA account. Below are a couple of scenarios regarding options for administration of MSA funds.

  • Injured Person Self-Administers his/her MSA Funds – The injured person handles his/her own MSA funds and assumes responsibility for handling the MSA funds per CMS’ guidelines for Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance.
  • Engage a Professional Administrator – Engage a third-party professional administration company to administer the MSA funds, coordinate all aspects of billing, complete annual reporting to Medicare as needed, maintain accounting records, etc. The Administrator assumes responsibility for handling the funds per CMS’s guidelines for compliance. Per CMS’s guidelines, fees for professional administration cannot be deducted out of the corpus of the MSA funds.
  • Engage A Trustee – Engage a person or professional entity (like a bank or trust company) who manages property or assets that have been placed in a Trust (i.e. a Special Needs Trust (SNT)). Per CMS’s guidelines, fees for a trustee cannot be deducted out of the corpus of the MSA funds.
  • Appointed Guardian or Conservator – An individual that has been determined to be mentally or physically incapacitated by a court of law, or when a minor is in need of an adult to manage his/her property, a guardian or conservator may be appointed.

Post Settlement Tips for Self-Administration

  • Per CMS’ guidelines, do not co-mingle MSA funds with personal funds. Place the MSA funds into a separate, interest bearing, FDIC insured account.
  • Keep pertinent documents regarding the settlement in a safe place. You may need to refer to these documents for paying claims, if applicable. Examples include:       o Executed Settlement
    o Power of Attorney
    o Conservator or Guardianship appointment
    o Trust documents
    o MSA Allocation Report / Life Care Plan / Medical Cost Projection Report
    or a report that was prepared and used in the settlement to determine
    and allocate the total future Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) funds.
    o CMS Approval Letter, applicable if the MSA was submitted to CMS for review
    o Accurate annual accounting, post settlement
    o Keep track of all post settlement expenses, receipts paid and copies of bills
    o Annual attestation letters, post settlement (these can now be submitted electronically)
    o Any correspondence from CMS, post settlement
  • Document Retention – How long should you keep settlement documents, CMS letters, etc? These documents you may want to keep for the life of your account. How long should you keep payments of medical bills, annual accounting, and yearly attestations? State laws generally govern how long medical records are to be retained. However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996’s (HIPAA) administrative simplification rules require a covered entity, such as a physician billing Medicare, to retain required documentation for six years from the date of its creation or the date when it last was in effect, whichever is later. https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/SE1022.pdf
  • What type of MSA funding arrangement was decided at the time of settlement? There are two types of MSA funding arrangements.
    1.    Lump Sum Funding – After settlement, a check for a one-time payment representing all future medical expenses that are injury related and Medicare allowable is issued.
    2.    Structured Annuity Funding – A combination of a check for the initial deposit or seed money used to fund the MSA. The amount of the seed deposit typically includes the first surgical procedure or replacement and the equivalent of two years of annual funds along with the yearly annuity payment beginning on the 1-year anniversary of settlement. Note: Medicare recognizes a structured settlement annuity as a viable method of funding MSAs. Medicare will become the primary payer of injury-related medical expenses, once documentation is provided showing the MSA funds were spent appropriately and there is no other available primary coverage to pay for injury-related Medicare covered medical expenses – until the next upcoming annuity payment has been deposited into the MSA account. For topics unique to Structured WCMSA Accounts, please refer to this link.
  • Before the injured person’s case settles, the WC claims adjuster typically will have paid for medical treatments and prescription medication that were related to the injury. After settlement occurs, the MSA funds should be used to pay injury-related and Medicare allowable expenses from the settlement date forward until exhausted.
  • If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you will need to continue to pay Medicare premiums, co-payments, and deductible amounts. Medicare updates its plans, premium costs, and coverage on a yearly basis. Each year, Medicare publishes a free downloadable handbook called “Medicare and You”.
  • If the injured person is Medicare eligible, he/she can add coverage to or change his/her plan during Medicare’s Open Enrollment period. The Open Enrollment period would not have an impact on their MSA Funds that they are currently self-administering. Every year, Medicare’s Open Enrollment period begins October 15th and ends December 7th for most Medicare plans. For Medicare Advantage plans, open enrollment runs from January 1st through February 14th. Medicare has designed a Medicare Plan Finder which it describes as a convenient way to compare coverage options, shop for plans, and feel confident about the coverage choices Medicare enrollees make. It also lets Medicare beneficiaries build and track their drug list to determine the best Part D (prescription drug) plan that meets their medical needs, including the display of lower-cost generic alternatives. Some details regarding Medicare Advantage Plans can be reviewed by clicking this link so you can compare covered benefits.
  • Medicare-Certified Providers – When choosing providers to receive care, consideration should be given whether the providers will be able to bill Medicare in the event MSA funds have either temporarily or permanently exhausted (depleted), or in the event a Medicare beneficiary may need Medicare covered treatment that is not injury related. If a provider cannot file claims to Medicare, the Medicare beneficiary may be billed for services in select circumstances. To locate providers that are Medicare-certified, please click here.
  • Reimbursement of Medicare Conditional Payments before and after settlement. If Medicare pays for care related to your injury, it may be doing so on the condition that Medicare will later be reimbursed for such payments. More information about Medicare’s right to recovery may be found here.
  • At the end of each year, interest earned on MSA funds will need to be identified as interest income generated from the MSA account for the prior tax year. Under CMS’ guidelines, the interest earned is to be deposited and remain in the MSA account to pay only for Medicare allowable expenses related to the injury, or used for other allowable purposes, such as to cover banking fees related to the account, mailing/postage fees related to the account, miscellaneous related document copying charges, and income tax on interest income from the MSA account.

Mismanaged MSA Funds

  • During the pre-settlement phase, the pricing of medical items and services for most MSA allocation reports are prepared using Workers’ Compensation state fee schedules for the state where the injury occurs. For liability cases, those medical items and services are priced at the Usual and Customary rate for the geographic region. For both WC and liability cases, prescription drug expenses are typically priced at Average Wholesale Pricing (AWP). Injured parties might not subscribe to or otherwise access the AWP pricing rates or state fee schedule rates and could end up paying for medical treatment or prescriptions drugs at amounts higher than they should.
  • When the injured person mistakenly pays for a non-Medicare allowable expense out of the MSA account, Medicare reserves the right to deny all injury-related Medicare covered claims until the MSA funds have been replenished or the injured worker can demonstrate appropriate usage equal to the full amount of the MSA.
  • If a provider mistakenly sends the bill to Medicare when it should have been paid out of a MSA account, the claim may be denied by Medicare and this could lead to CMS initiating an audit of the MSA funds.
  • Medicare may accidentally pay for an injury-related claim when it should have been paid out of the MSA account. The injured person may end up being billed or charged for the Medicare copay, coinsurance, or deductible amount, and later, still have to reimburse Medicare from the MSA funds.

When considering all the factors described above, doesn’t it make sense to strongly consider the use of a professional administrator? Also, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published in the WCMSA Reference Guide, that professional administration is highly recommended.

Simply put, Professional Administration makes sense. If you are an attorney or an injured person who has questions regarding switching from self-administration to professional administration, Medivest is here to answer any questions you may have.

 


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