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WASHINGTON-High-deductible health care plans providing family coverage that are linked to tax-favored medical savings accounts must have annual deductibles of at least $3,000 and not more than $4,500, the Internal Revenue Service says.

In Ruling 97-20, the IRS said so-called "embedded" high-deductible plans linked to tax-favored MSAs would not be considered bona fide. In such an arrangement, a plan would provide coverage if any individual family member's medical expenses exceeded a certain amount, even if the overall deductible had not been reached.

The embedded high-deductible plan specifically rejected by the IRS had an overall family deductible of $3,000 but provided coverage to all family members if any member incurred medical bills of at least $1,500.

Separately, the IRS is requiring MSA trustees and custodians to file Form 8851 as part of a census on how many tax-favored MSAs are being established under a 1996 law that authorized them. Two filings are required. The first filing covers MSAs established from Jan. 1 through April 30. That form is due June 2. The next 8851 will cover MSAs established from May 1 through June 30 and must be filed by Aug. 1.