Flexible Spending Account
A Medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an IRS-approved, tax-exempt account that saves you valuable tax dollars on eligible medical expenses. Each pay period, an amount of money that you have specified is deducted from your gross pay before federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes are calculated.
Effective January 1, 2014, Flex-Plan Services, Inc. will be the new administrator for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for Public Employees’ Benefits Board (PEBB) members .
How a Flexible Spending Account Works
When you enroll, you estimate your family's annual health expenses and choose the amount of money you want to set aside pre-tax for the plan year. For 2015, this amount must be between $240 and $2,500. The amount you choose is deducted evenly from your paychecks throughout the year based on your length of appointment (e.g. 9, 10, 11 or 12 months).
As you incur eligible medical expenses, you may request withdrawals from your account to reimburse yourself for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by submitting a claim form with your bills to Flex-Plan Services, Inc. Reimbursement will be issued in the form of a check or direct deposit reimbursement, whichever you elect. There is also a debit card option.
FSA funds not used during the plan year will be forfeited.
If you are eligible for PEBB-sponsored benefits, you can enroll in a the FSA as long as you are not already enrolled in a Consumer-Directed Health Plan with a Health Savings Account (CDHP-HSA). FSA expenses can be reimbursed for:
- your spouse or your tax-qualified domestic partner (QDP), and/or
- Internal Revenue Code (IRC)-eligible dependents
These individuals do not need to be covered under your PEBB medical plan for their expenses to be reimbursed from your FSA.
Current plan participants: You must re-enroll in the plan each year in order to continue your participation. Open Enrollment is held during the month of November each year, with the FSA going into effect January 1 of the following year.
New hires who wish to enroll in an FSA must do so within 31 days from date of hire. Participation becomes effective the first day of the month following receipt of the properly completed enrollment form. Funds are available for those claims incurred after the account is set up.
Current University employees experiencing a qualifying life event may enroll in an FSA within 60 days from date of the qualifying event. Participation becomes effective the first day of the month following receipt of the properly completed enrollment form. Funds are available for those claims incurred after the account is set up.
Before You Enroll
Before enrolling in an FSA, consider the following:
- Exclusion: If you are enrolled in a consumer-driven health plan with a Health Savings Account (CDHP-HSA), you and your spouse cannot participate in an FSA. You may enroll in one or the other but not both.
- Be conservative with your estimates: Any money you do not spend during the plan year will be forfeited.
- Anticipated expenses: Determine whether some of your anticipated expenses are FSA eligible. View the list of eligible and ineligible expenses on the plan administrator's website.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines will not be reimbursable through FSA without a doctor’s prescription.
- Changing deductions: You cannot change the amount of money deducted from your pay during the plan year unless you have a qualifying life event that allows a medical plan change like marriage, birth or adoption, divorce, death, or change in residence.
- Filing claims: All claims must be submitted to the plan administrator at Flex-Plan Services who determines whether these qualify for reimbursement.
- Planned surgery: Before undergoing a planned surgical procedure for which you will want reimbursement, be sure you understand any documentation and approval requirements that will be necessary. See the FSA Enrollment Guide or contact Flex-Plan Services at 1-800-669-3539.
- Run-out period: You have a 90-day grace period at the end of a plan year to claim reimbursement for eligible medical expenses. For example, you have until March 31, 2015, to submit claims for 2014 medical expenses.
- Exception: If you elected to enroll in a CDHP-HSA, you were required to use all your FSA funds for that year with no grace period.
- Grace Period: The IRS permits a "grace period" of two months and 15 days following the end of your plan year for the FSA. During the grace period, you may incur expenses and submit claims for these expenses. Funds will be automatically deducted from any remaining dollars in your FSA. The grace period is not the same as the "run-out period." The run-out period extends until March 31 each year. This is a period for filing claims incurred anytime during the plan year, as well as claims incurred during the grace period.
- Exception: If you are enrolling in a CDHP-HSA in the next plan year, you will not be allowed a grace period for the current plan year. You must use all funds before the end of the current plan year or forfeit the balance.
- Other Compensation: You cannot receive insurance benefits or any other compensation for expenses reimbursed through your FSA.
- Income Tax Deductions: Expenses reimbursed from an FSA cannot be deducted on your federal tax return because the money from the FSA is tax exempt.
- No Advance Reimbursement: You may only be reimbursed for services you have received.
- New hires or current employees who experienced a recent qualifying life event may enroll in a FSA account for the current plan year provided eligibility and enrollment requirements are met, otherwise any eligible employee may enroll in the upcoming year during the annual open enrollment period, November 1-30.
- Estimate the amount of eligible medical expenses you expect to incur during the calendar year.
- If it's your first visit to the website, create an account.
- Enroll online or through a paper enrollment. You must either enroll online or alternatively fax, email, or mail your enrollment no later than the last day of open enrollment. Be sure to indicate the "Western Washington University" on the form.
Access Your FSA / File a Claim
After enrolling in the FSA, you don't have to wait for cash to accumulate to use your account. The maximum annual amount you plan to contribute is available throughout your period of coverage. Funds are available for those claims incurred after your account is set up.
Here are the ways you can access your FSA:
- Fill out a Claim Form, attach proper documentation and fax, email or mail it to Flex-Plan Services (below).
- Use your benefit's debit card to pay for eligible expenses and the funds will come automatically out of your FSA and are paid to the provider. Download the FlexiCard Debit Card Application form.
- After you create an account with Flex-Plan Services, download the Flexi App for your Android or iPhone mobile device. You can use the "Submit a Claim" tool to enter your claim information, upload a photo of your documentation, and submit to Flex-Plan Services.
It is important to send the proper documentation that substantiates the claim, the IRS requires that the documentation have:
- Date of service- which falls within the plan year
- Type of service or item
- Cost or patient responsibility
Bills from providers and Explanation of Benefits (EOB’s) from insurance carriers are good forms of documentation. You do not need to show proof of payment unless you are submitting an orthodontia claim. Do not submit copies of cancelled checks, credit or debit card receipts. DO NOT send the claim form to the WWU Benefits Office.
Direct Reimbursement Option
You have the option to have your FSA reimbursement checks deposited directly into your checking or savings account. Depending on whether you opt for email or written confirmations, you will either receive an email or letter that the claim has been processed. To apply, complete the Direct Deposit form or contact Flex-Plan customer service at 1-800-669-3539.
Continuation of Benefits
Upon leave of absence, lay-off, or termination of employment, you may be eligible to continue your FSA through the end of the leave or calendar year by special arrangement with Flex-Plan Services. For more information, call Flex-Plan customer service at 1-800-669-3539.
Note: The Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) may not be continued after layoff or termination of employment.
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