Later this afternoon I will be making my way to Phoenix for the annual Visa Prepaid Forum. This is the event hosted yearly by the people at Visa who work to bring us those stored value cards like the gift cards that look and operate pretty much like a bank debit card. The Forum will attract banks, merchants, card processors, and others involved in making pre-paid cards work.
Among this group will be a smaller subset of health care people who will break out after the General Sessions to focus on the use of stored value cards to facilitate the use of various account-based health plans including Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs).
The big topic of discussion over the past couple of years, and the one likely to dominate the discussion this year as well, is how to make these cards compliant with IRS guidelines. As of January 1, 2008, the IRS required ‘non-healthcare’ retailers, such as supermarkets, grocery stores, discount stores, warehouse clubs, and mail-order merchants, that sell medical goods and services to maintain a point-of-sale system that effectively identifies eligible transactions when consumers use flexible spending account (FSA) and health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) debit cards.
Fort the past couple of years, the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards (SIGIS), has worked to develop its a voluntary industry standard solution to meet IRS requirements for operating an inventory information approval system (an “IIAS”). IIAS-compliant transactions enable real-time, auto-substantiation for eligible medical items purchased with an FSA/HRA payment card. For more information see: http://www.sig-is.org/en/index.asp.
Visa Healthcare has been a driving force in the development of the IIAS Standards and will no doubt have new information to present during the forum.
Time permitting; I will be blogging from the conference, so check here for updates.