health care 'flex spending' account?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from GlitzyCity. Show GlitzyCity's posts

    health care 'flex spending' account?

    Hi everyone,
    Longtime lurker, first time poster. :) I'm sorry if this topic has been recently discussed. I tried 'searching' for it on BDC, but odd unrelated things came up. I also manually paged through many pages of older discussions and didn't see it. If there's a better way to search for topics that I'm missing, please let me know. :)


    DH and I have decided to start TTC within the next 2 months and I was wondering about health care 'flex spending' accounts. Luckily, neither of us ever had to visit the doctor's more than once a year so we've never had such an account (it is offered through my work).


    From what I understand, money is taken out of your paycheck on a pretax basis, put into the account, and then you can pay your co-pays and other medical expenses with it. Since we're thinking of adding to the family, we thought it might be a good idea to look into it, seeing as how docs visits and appointments will most likely increase if/when we get PG, at some point.

    Was wondering if anyone opened an account and if it was worthwhile or a hassle, or if it didn't seem to make a difference one way or another. Did you find you used it a lot during your pregnancy with lots of doc appts? Also, is there a requirement that you actually SPEND all the money in your account by the end of the year? I plan on checking with H. R. eventually but wanted to cast my net out here first.

    Thanks!
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Check with your insurance company first -- my maternity visits were covered 100% -- no copays.

    If you don't use the money by the cutoff date, you don't get it back.

    I found the FSA useful when they covered everything -- bandaids, motrin, etc. -- but now that it only covers copays and prescriptions I think it's pretty useless unless you have a chronic condition like Diabetes.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Oh, I do  have a hospital stay deductible, so I guess you could use the FSA for that. You'd have to plan ahead pretty carefully though, because it would be difficult to use up $1000 in copays and prescriptions if you didn't end up giving birth before the cutoff date.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from rysmom. Show rysmom's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Some FSA's will cover OTC medication with a prescription.  Also things like Weight Watchers is often covered with a letter from your doctor.  New eye glasses/contacts if you wear them. We just started one this year.  We looked at our expenses from the previous year to figure out how much to put in the account.  I think most run on a calendar year so you might have to wait until next year.  But, if you don't already track your health care related expenses it would be good to do it so you know how much to put in.  Also, we have a deductible so this helps with that.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from MM379. Show MM379's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    You can use them for things like Rx copays, ER/hospital copays, eve contacts, glasses, dental copays or extra dental costs - so, we gobble ours up pretty quickly each year.  Especially after having DS - all those well baby visits plus all the sick visits.  Our minimum is $200 with my company's FSA and we've been doing $500-$1000 each year depending on anticipated costs.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    If you do have a baby, you can ask the ped how many visits to expect in a year. As I recall, there were a lot that first year. Not so many the second. I'm bitter because I can't seem to use up the last of mine. I have to spend $90 by March 1.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from June08bride. Show June08bride's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Regarding Pedi visits...with the new universal healthcare, you dont pay co-pays for well visits. 
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from CoffeeQueen. Show CoffeeQueen's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Glitzy, it's worth talking to your HR rep to get a better understanding.  Prior to January 1, 2011 pretty much every health related item OTC was eligible in addition to Rx, copays and the others mentioned above.  The caveat now with the new healthcare reform and it's effect on FSA is for OTC drugs (ie infant motrin, advil, benadryl etc) you have to have a perscription from your doctor.  Our pedi and my primary were more than happy to write one up, but its more of a pain than anything to go through the extra step.

    We burn through our FSA money like crazy.  DH is in construction and is usually at the ER atleast once a month for stitches or whatever.  That copay is covered.  The coverage for contacts and glasses is HUGE since that can be a costly expense.  With regard to OB appts, mine were all covered and there was no copay.  I did have to pay $100 after I had DS and was able to submit for reimbursement.  His well visits are now without copay but his sick visit still have one.  When he was a newborn it felt like I was there every week (whole other story lol).

    I say do it if you can figure out exactly how much you will need; the money will "expire" at the end of the year.  BTW, does anyone know where the leftover funds go?
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from amy-lynn. Show amy-lynn's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    The Flex-spending account that is really worth it is the dependant care account. You can put up to $5000 a year in pretax dollar to spend on daycare. But that is total - one kid or twenty, you only get $5000.

    But as far as most flex accounts go, you usually have to sign up during open enrollment for your company. A pregnancy is a "qualifying life event" though, so if you do have a lot of expenses, you can add more money to one after the baby is born (but only if they are incurred in the same calendar year, so if you spend a lot in 2011, but the kid isn't born until 2012, you can only change the 2012 amount.)

    A lot of the nitty gritty details are company specific, so definitely check with your HR about how your plan is run, but I think they are worth it.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from GlitzyCity. Show GlitzyCity's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Thanks for all the insight, good to know. Apparently they do run on calendar years and the last day to sign up for one at my work was December 15, so I guess I'm out of the running this year anyway! Something to keep in mind for down the road though, although HAVING to spend the money or lose it makes me anxious.

     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from RedFishBlueFish. Show RedFishBlueFish's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    CofffeeQueen, Slate's Explainer would be glad to answer that for you:

    www.slate.com/id/2278796/
     
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  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from Lostgrouse. Show Lostgrouse's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Also, totally check your insurance co-pays/co-insurance.  I'm on my husband's plan because my company pays me $5K to not be on the health insurance.  That being said, it's an 80/20 split.  So yes, we paid 20% of the cost of having a baby after the insurance negotiated rates down, and out of pocket for the baby was somewhere around $2500 (and I had no drugs/no c-section).  My husband also opted for LASIK last year, so we maxed out our plan in 2010.  But yes, having a baby is a life event and you can change your dollar amounts at that point.  I think that you can also enter into the plan at that time, but you have to check with HR.  

    And you usually have until March of the next year to pay out everything on your FSA.

    To think about it, if you're in the 25% tax bracket, if you put $1K away, you're getting $250 off your tax bill which means that even if you only used $800 of your FSA, you still won.  Yes you lost $200 in pay, but you didn't have to pay the gov't that extra $250.  Also if you're anywhere close to the child tax credit phaseouts (AGI $110K+) it can actually be a smart tax savings item to throw something in there to get some of the child tax credit that you might not get otherwise (but that's usually a stretch, so talk to your accountant).  
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from CoffeeQueen. Show CoffeeQueen's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    In Response to Re: health care 'flex spending' account?:
    [QUOTE]Obamacare is not universal healthcare, and the no well visit co-pay only applies to new insurance policies.  So if you've been on an employer's plan that already had a co-pay, it stays. [/QUOTE]


    My response to the OP was based on my experience.  Prior to the first we paid a co-pay for well visits.  In January when we went in for DS' 6 mos well appt the receptionist said there was no co-pay because of the new law. Nothing about our insurance changed either.

    Glitzy, too bad you can't enroll this year but it will give you the opportunity to really track your spending and anticipate costs for 2012.  We also do Dependant Care and it's really helpful.  Daycare is expensive and every little bit helps!
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from canukgrl. Show canukgrl's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    I agree that the changes for 2011 make it at best a lot harder to use an FSA, and at worse, hardly worth it :)  FWIW, we usually do $1000 and at the end of the year I scramble to make sure we've spent it all, and if not, stock up on contacts, solution etc. that was formerly covered.

    This year, I went for $1200 (2nd kid, guaranteed at least $75 in co-pays just for well visits) and I think we will use it... this year already, we've had 4 - yes FOUR - sick kid visits (2 conjunctivitis, one fever and just today one with something that requires the nebulizer) 2 visits resulted in prescriptions, I am getting something fixed in my foot that I had to put off until done nursing, so we're easily into a couple of hundred just in co-pays and Rx... haven't even hit anything with our deductible yet.

    SO, yes, I think it's worth doing, after kids (It was not worth the hassle for me pre-kids, even for contacts/glasses) but you need to stay on top of it.

    Now the dependant care one, THAT is absolutely worth doing, I wish you could do $5000 per kid!
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from framerican51008. Show framerican51008's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Just a couple of thoughts that may or may not have been covered already...

    You can probably only enroll during your employer's open enrollment, which for me was before the end of 2010.

    Once you have a baby (a "life changing event"), you may be able to enroll then.

    Some employers also have a similar account for childcare expenses.  Something I will need to consider very soon!  Does anyone use one of those?
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from lemonmelon. Show lemonmelon's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Dude, we need to get sick more. I put $300 aside and still have to use 1/3 of it.
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from rysmom. Show rysmom's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Coffee - you might want to check with your insurance so you aren't surprised with a bill.  
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from MM379. Show MM379's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    I STUPIDLY missed our FSA deadline this year without realizing it.  I can add the dependent care FSA back on after DD is born, but I don't believe I can add on the health care one with that event... I have to wait until the next open enrollment. 
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from amy-lynn. Show amy-lynn's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Framerican- The dependant care FSA is TOTALLY worth it. It is $5000/year max, per family, and we max ours out. The submission is a little bit of a PIA for getting reimbursed, but I'd rather have to hang on to receipts, and fax all the info than use post-tax dollars for all of the childcare costs.
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from framerican51008. Show framerican51008's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    Amy-lynn,
    Clearly I need to follow up with my benefits department, but in the meantime...
    Do you pay into the dependent care in one lump some or do they make deductions from paychecks?
    Do you get reimbursed in one lump sum at the end of the year or weekly/monthly so you can pay daycare?
    Does the day care have to be licensed?  (I'm planning on it, but just curious.  None of my co-workers seems to have an acct, so I wonder if that's why.)

    Thanks!

     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from amy-lynn. Show amy-lynn's posts

    Re: health care 'flex spending' account?

    For ours, and I'm not sure if it is the case for all, so obviously check with your company, but, the money is deducted from each paycheck. We pay the daycare provider from our own account, and we submit receipts every so often. We can only get back what we have contributed, so even though we have $5000 worth of reciepts long before December 31, we have to wait until the last paycheck to get the last bit of money back.
    We need our providers tax identification number, a reciept and things like her name and address. It isn't terribly complicated, and she is an home daycare provider, not a center, so I know you can do it for that situation. I think the key is that you have to be able to show that the provider is paying taxes on the money you are paying, so if you were paying someone under the table, you couldn't use the FSA.
    HTH
     

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