It has been difficult to avoid talk about the Department of Labor’s new Conflict of Interest Rule (also called the fiduciary rule) over the past several months. One area that caused a great deal of confusion even before the rule’s announcement was ERISA’s application to high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts. How do you determine whether there are fiduciary obligations in these scenarios?

First, it is important to understand that group health plans, including high-deductible health plans, are generally ERISA plans. HSAs, meanwhile, are individually owned bank accounts and not subject to ERISA requirements as long as certain conditions are met. This was all true even before the introduction of the new rule.

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