Ashley Gillihan

Ashley Gillihan is a member of Alston & Bird's Employee Benefits and ERISA Litigation Groups in Atlanta.  Mr. Gillihan has been a member of the IAML faculty for more than 10 years and receives high ratings for his use of humor in the classroom. Mr. Gillihan focuses his practice exclusively on health and welfare employee benefit compliance and litigation issues for employers, health plan administrators and other health and welfare benefit plan service providers. He also has extensive experience assisting financial institutions and insurance companies who serve as Health Savings Account trustees or custodians. Mr. Gillihan is active in publishing and speaking on various health and welfare benefit plan related topics and serves as a faculty member and/or technical advisor for several health and welfare benefit plan focused organizations. He is a member of the Employer’s Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) Technical Advisory Council and the board of editors for the Benefits and Compensation Law Alert published by M. Lee Smith Publishers.  He is the past author of the Flexible Benefits Answer Book published by Aspen Publishers and is a regular contributor to The Self Insurer.  Mr. Gillihan received his BA from Western Kentucky University and his JD from Samford University.  He is admitted to practice in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.


  • Samford University (J.D., 1996)
  • Western Kentucky University (B.A., 1993)


  • Counsel to several large, national employer/plan sponsors with multiple union and non-union health and welfare plans.
  • Counsel to several third-party administrators who perform a wide range of services from flexible spending account administrator to administration of comprehensive health plans.
  • Counsel to several financial institutions and other financial related entities which serve as Health Savings Account custodians or trustees.


  • On September 18, 2014, the IRS issued several pieces of guidance on pressing Affordable Care Act issues, including Notice 2014-55. Notice 2014-55 provides for two new permissible, mid-year cafeteria plan election changes.
  • "To Subsidize or Not to Subsidize - That is the Question - How Halbig and King Affect Employer Requirements Under the Affordable Care Act," The Self Insurer, September 2014.
  • “ACA Administrative Simplification Provisions for Health Plans: Time to Apply for an HPID and Prepare for Certification of Compliance”, The Self Insurer, July 2014.
  • “The Affordable Care Act and Account-Based Plans: Impact of the ACA on HRAs, FSAs, and HSAs,”The Self Insurer, April 2014.
  • “Agency Guidance Strikes a Major Blow for Individual Policy Premium Reimbursement and Stand-Alone Health Reimbursement Arrangements," The Self Insurer, February 2014.
  • “Impact of Supreme Court Same Sex Marriage Ruling on Health Benefits: Part II,” The Self Insurer, January 2014.
  • This advisory discusses the impact of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision and recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Labor (DOL) guidance for health and welfare benefit plans. While there are still some unanswered questions, the recent agency guidance has given plan administrators guidelines about how to proceed. Some action must be taken quickly to take advantage of recent transition relief, so employers whose plans cover same-sex spouses (or who wish to amend their plans to do so) should take note of the relevant deadlines.
  • On September 13, the IRS and the Department of Labor (DOL) issued twin notices—IRS Notice 2013-54 and Technical Release 2013-03 (collectively, the “Agency Guidance”) —which adversely affect an employer’s ability to pay for major medical coverage issued in the individual market on a pre-tax basis and/or maintain a stand-alone defined contribution medical reimbursement plan, such as an HRA. The guidance created an explosion of interest within the employee benefits community with respect to such arrangements. This advisory provides an analysis of the Agency Guidance and its impact, including a summary reference chart of the arrangements that remain permissible and those that do not.
  • The Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services (the “Departments”) published final wellness regulations this summer (the “Final Wellness Rules”) modifying the 2006 HIPAA wellness program regulations (the “2006 Regulations”) in light of the changes made to the statutory provisions by the Affordable Care Act (the ACA). These Final Wellness Rules supersede the proposed regulations published on November 26, 2012 (the “Proposed Wellness Rules”). This advisory discusses key aspects of the Final Wellness Rules as applied to group health plans.
  • “Friday the 13th: Agencies Take a Chainsaw Approach to HRAs and Employer-Funded Individual Medical (IM) Coverage,” ECFC Flex Reporter, September 2013.
  • “Private Exchanges and the Impact on Health Coverage,” The Self Insurer, August 2013.
  • “IRS Issues Game-Changing Regulations Interpreting Health Care Reform’s Pay or Play Requirement,” Benefits Law Journal, Summer 2013.
  • “CER Fees – Funding the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust,” The Self Insurer, May 2013.