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  • What is different about the SIGIS standard than approaches implemented by some merchants?

    A merchant may develop its own approach that is compliant with IRS requirements for an IIAS, and then make separate contractual arrangements with individual Third Party Administrator or card issuer processors. With the IIAS standard developed by SIGIS, a broad range of participating merchants have been able to implement a solution that is recognized industry-wide, which enables acceptance of almost all FSA/HRA payment cards. Likewise, Third Party Administrators have implemented a common set of procedures that applies to IIAS transactions at participating merchants. The broad adoption of the SIGIS standard enables a more consistent consumer experience.

  • What is the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards?

    SIGIS is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in 2007 to establish and manage an industry standard to support requirements published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the processing of Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) debit card transactions. The IRS requires merchants that sell prescriptions and/or over-the-counter medical items either: 1) support an “inventory information approval system” (IIAS) or 2) qualify as a “90% Rule” pharmacy or drug store. SIGIS manages voluntary industry standards and services to enable the usage of FSA and HRA debit cards in accordance with IRS requirements.

    SIGIS is a membership company that has a broad range of participants, including merchants, card issuers, third-party plan administrators (TPAs), merchant acquirers, processors, financial institutions, trade associations groups, software vendors, and payment card networks.

  • Who is eligible to participate in SIGIS?

    SIGIS is a membership company open to all participants involved in offering, processing or accepting health care payment cards for FSAs and HRAs. Thus, membership is open to merchants, card issuers, third-party plan administrators, merchant acquirers, processors, financial institutions, trade association groups, and payment card associations.

  • What is an “inventory information approval system” as specified by the IRS?

    An IIAS requires a merchant’s point-of-sale system to have the ability to verify that the merchandise being purchased with a FSA/HRA card is an eligible medical expense, as defined by the IRS. The merchant’s system compares the inventory control information (e.g., UPC or SKU number) of items being purchased against a pre-established list of eligible medical products. The list is limited to eligible medical expenses as described in Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, including eligible non-prescription items. The merchant’s system totals the eligible medical expenses and transmits this information to the payment card issuer for approval, subject to coverage under the health plan (i.e., type of coverage provided, covered participant, etc.). Thus when a merchant supports an IIAS, consumers are not able to use FSA/HRA card funds to purchase merchandise unless the items qualify as eligible medical expenses.

  • How to contact SIGIS?

    The most efficient means of contact is to email the SIGIS Help Desk with your questions or comments, at help@sig-is.org. Your request will be processed within two business days.

    The SIGIS mailing address is:

    SIGIS - Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards
    111 Deerwood Rd. Ste.200
    San Ramon, CA 94583

    You may also contact SIGIS Help Desk at (925) 855-3228. SIGIS live operators are available between 6:30 am to 3:00 pm PST Monday - Thursday, and 6:30 am to 2:30 pm PST on Fridays, excluding major holidays to answers calls.  If all our operators are busy, please leave a voice mail message.  It will be returned within one business day.

    The SIGIS fax number is (925) 855-3229.

  • How can we get more information?

    Plan administrators should contact their card issuer or processor, and merchants should contact their acquirer. Card holders should contact their Plan Administrator. Contact us for membership information.

  • Has the IRS approved the SIGIS approach?

    Although there is not currently a mechanism for formal IRS approval, SIGIS and its Members have met with IRS and Treasury representatives to review the SIGIS approach. In addition, SIGIS meets with the IRS when guidance is required on existing or new regulatory requirements.

  • Does SIGIS assist members in determining which items are Section 213(d) eligible medical expenses?

    Yes. SIGIS publishes an Eligible Product List for participating merchants to use as the basis to identify items in their inventory. Access to the Eligible Product List is available upon SIGIS membership approval. The Eligible Product List also enables plan administrators and third-party plan administrators (TPAs) to rely upon a more consistent identification of eligible medical items.

  • Does SIGIS support the 90% Rule?

    Yes. SIGIS has implemented a program for SIGIS Member drug stores/pharmacies that qualify under the 90% Rule to be registered. Go to the SIGIS > Programs Page for more information.

  • Does SIGIS sell the software or equipment necessary to run an IIAS?

    SIGIS does not make or produce hardware or software. SIGIS is a non-profit, standards organization that works with merchants, their acquirers, issuer/processors and plan administrators to develop consistent standards for the initiating and authorization of FSA/HRA debit card transactions. SIGIS does provide for Third-Party Servicer/POS certification for IIAS systems, please check our website for a list of Third-Party Servicer solutions that have been certified. In addition, SIGIS provides Members with the Eligible Product List that is used to identify eligible health care products in a merchant's inventory when supporting IIAS systems. Lastly, it is suggested that merchants contact their payment card processor for information about how to support an IIAS and which Third-Party Servicer’s have been certified with their acquirer.

  • Member notification of amendments to the SIGIS Membership Agreement

    SIGIS will notify Members when an amendment has been made to the Membership Agreement. Upon notification of an amendment, the notified Member has the following options.

    • If the Member agrees with the amendment, no action is required. The Member does not need to send in a new signed copy of the Membership agreement.
    • If the Member does not agree with the amendment, the Member must withdraw their Membership in SIGIS by the date specified in the amendment notice or be subject to the amendment.

  • Does SIGIS support IIAS and 90% Rule processes for US Territories?

    US Territories US Virgin Islands (USVI), Guam, Marianas Islands / Saipan (CNMI) and American Samoa operate under a variety of US tax laws.  Some mirror the US tax law while others are separate and distinct.  In summary:

    • US Virgin Islands (USVI) and Guam operate under a mirrored US tax law that supports Section 125 Cafeteria plans and an IIAS.  SIGIS supports retailers and consumers in these markets via IIAS and 90% Rule programs.
    • Puerto Rico has its own tax code that does not currently recognize Section 125 Cafeteria plans and IIAS.  SIGIS does not support this market.
    • American Samoa and Marianas Islands / Saipan (CNMI) have a combination of US and Local tax laws in effect.  Further research is required to determine if Section 125 applies in these markets and the impact of local tax laws. At this time, SIGIS does not support these markets.

    While SIGIS processes may support these locations members and consumers should consult with their counsel and plan administrators that operate in these markets to determine support for FSA, HRA and HSA debit cards.

    As of April 12th, 2011.