Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The wonders of the FSA

FSA, as in, Flexible Spending Account. An FSA is an account where you put pre-tax money and you can use it to get reimbursed for medical and dependent-care expenses. If you spend a lot in those areas, the FSA can offer great tax savings. But, it looks like Scott and I are going to have a hard time emptying out our flexible spending account this year. We contributed $1200 and I have no idea how we'll spend it all. Yes, we're really that healthy (knock on wood) and we don't have qualifying dependent care expenses. Unfortunately, FSAs are "use it or lose it" accounts, so deemed by the IRS. So if we don't spend everything in the account, it disappears (apparently into thin air because I've yet to find someone who can tell me what actually happens to the leftover money).

So today I was looking into ways to get reimbursed for the money in our account. I thought that I could buy a year's worth of multivitamins and fish oil supplements. They are, after all, medical expenses, aren't they? Apparently not because I sent in my reimbursement form and reciepts for them and was denied. D-nied. Ouch. I went onto our health insurance website to find out what the deal was and this is what I discovered. If I'd like to be reimbursed for over-the-counter cold or flu medication, wart removal cream, pain relievers, or even contraception, it doesn't seem to be a problem. Circle the items on your Walgreens receipt, send the receipt to the insurance company and a few days later the reimbursement shows up in your bank account. Now vitamins and supplements on the other hand, something intended to keep you healthy, well...for that you need a doctor's note. Yes, a doctor's note. The doctor's note must, and I quote, "cite the specific medical condition being treated and indicate that the OTC medication will treat or alleviate it." Seriously? So I could buy a lifetime supply of condoms and Sudafed and be reimbursed without question but if I want to be reimbursed for fish oil and multivitamins, I need a doctor's note?

You gotta be kidding. What is this world coming to?

6 comments:

Fulton said...

FSA's have always been the kind of thing that sounded like such a pain that it was not worth trying to use... maybe when we start having kids we'll get one, but until then, we'll stick to trying to be healthy like you all.

Kate said...

What about exercise programs? I go to this local women-only boot camp fitness thing, and it's fun. (And a little pricey, so it would put a dent in the account.)

Hillary Dickman said...

Kate, great idea! I'll have to look into that. I'm pretty sure it would cover at-home fitness equipment, so maybe it would cover fitness classes, to.

Court said...

I know ours covers sunscreen. Each is different. I just looked at the list at the end of the year and go from there. Last year was neosporin, band-aids, diaper rash cream, tylenol, thermometer and Tums. We will probably have a ton at the end of this year, but I'll just get new glasses then.

Hillary Dickman said...

Hmm, our FSA must really suck because sunscreen is not covered, nor is any kind of exercise program/health club fees. Glasses are but only Brynn wears glasses and her co-pay is only $10 for a pair of glasses. Scott mentioned buying a few cases of neosporin and bandaids since we seem to go through a lot of that...but surely not $633 worth. Ours does cover everything related to baby-care...we just don't need that at the moment. I do think that we'll be able to get reimbursed for vitamins and omega 3s, though. Our doctor is drafting a letter for us.

Susi said...
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