Flexible Spending Account Improvements

It’s open enrollment time, and I just received my benefits re-enrollment packet in the mail. Along with details regarding our various health and dental insurance options, there was also information on changes to our flexible spending account (FSA). In case you’re wondering, an FSA is simply an account into which you deposit pre-tax dollars that are later used to reimburse you for eligible medical or dependent care expenses. As it turns out, the company that runs our FSA (FlexBen) got bought out by WageWorks, and changes are afoot.

Among the most biggest changes are new tools for managing the money in our account. First off, we now have access to the WageWorks Health Care Card, which is a prepaid Visa card that we can use to pay for eligible expenditures without have to file a claim or wait for reimbursement. According to information that we received, this card can be used to pay a doctor, dentist or pharmacist, as well as pretty much any merchant that sells eligible health care products. It’s still a bit unclear to me how they can be sure that these cards are being used only for eligible purchases, but it seems like there must be some sort of mechanism in place to prevent people from buying random stuff. Since they call this a ‘pre-paid’ card as opposed to a debit card, I also wonder about the ramifications of losing your card. If the cash is loaded on the card, you could be out of luck if you misplace it.

Another new feature is an online bill payment service called “Pay My Provider.” This service will apparently allow us to automatically make recurring payments for both medical and dependent care. While we don’t do childcare, this may come in handy when it comes time to pay for the orthodontia that my oldest son will likely need during the upcoming year. All in all, it sounds like it will be even easier than ever to spend out our FSA. Which is good news, since these things operate on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.

3 Responses to “Flexible Spending Account Improvements”

  1. Anonymous

    The merchants have id codes that are transmitted with the transactions & these are what are used to determine the eligibility (or not) of the transaction.
    Ex. USAA’s version of the prepaid health card recognizes doctor office co-pay codes, but not optometrist codes to make sure the card is used for medical issues not glasses issues.

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