FSA and HRA To-Do’s
Our video today is a reminder to people with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to become familiar with the requirements and deadlines associated with these accounts. FSAs and HRAs are programs which allow users to pay for out of-pocket medical expenses with pretax dollars.
These accounts can be confused, particularly with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs also allow users to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses with pretax dollars but HSAs are VERY flexible and one can decide how to use those funds without concern about annual deadlines. Once funds are in an HSA, whether funded by an employer or the individual, they belong to the individual. They never revert back to an employer.
If how these accounts differ is not clear and you feel more detail is required, please go back and review the video featuring Eileen Wilson speaking on this topic.
A Flexible spending account is only available to those with group coverage and is funded with payroll deductions. Most important for today’s discussion is that an FSA is a “use it a lose it” account. Google this topic and you will find articles that suggest many employees are not filing to exhaust their annual account. When that happens the funds revert back to the employer and there is rarely good reason for that to happen since you can use FSA funds for a wide variety of expenses – even over the counter medications.
Due to COVID-19, there has been more flexibility in the administration of these accounts so determine whether you have a roll-over opportunity or grace period available to you. However, if you intend to contribute to a flexible spending account annually, you should get in to the habit of managing the account in the way it was intended.
Know what expenses the IRS considers eligible. This is easy to research online. You also need to know your deadline for requesting reimbursement and the documentation you must submit to be reimbursed. If you don’t have unreimbursed expenses from this year and you still have money in your FSA, you may want to visit a site that specializes in selling only FSA eligible products, such as FSAstore.com, to use up your funds. (Healthcare Navigation has no affiliation with fsastore.com).
Sometimes employers will call these accounts something else like a healthcare spending account. Hopefully, if you elected to have funds taken out of your paycheck, you are familiar with what you have.
A Health Reimbursement Arrangement is only available to those who have group coverage and the employer has made available this type of account. The HRA is funded by the employer so it is not quite as painful an experience to miss taking advantage of those funds as missing the opportunity to use the money you set aside from your paycheck as FSA funds. However, if your employer has made this benefit available to you, in most situations, you will want to tap the account. This type of account can also be called something similar like a Medical Reimbursement Arrangement (MRA).
Again, if you have an FSA or access to an HRA, please become familiar with what expense are eligible expenses, the deadline for filing for reimbursement and associated documentation requirements.