Sunday, June 8, 2008

Thoughts on HSA's

Expanded HSA's, or health savings accounts (sometimes known for other purposes as flexible spendable accounts), are on McCain's agenda for health care. I'm all for something that will help save me money, especially since Obama's plan will inevitably cost me somehow (be taxes, higher prices, lower benefits, higher deductibles...it will come out somewhere), but I have to scoff at the idea of HSA's. It wouldn't be bad if my experience with a HSA hadn't been soured by FBMC, for "Fringe Benefits Management Company".

The truth is, the whole process was difficult to tap into, except the part where the employer auto-deducts your pay. Afterwards, you must retain service records (not receipts) from each of the qualifying expenses you want to reimburse. This wasn't explained clearly in their definitions, it only referenced the IRS code which explains what a qualifying expense is, without reference to the IRS code where you could look it up yourself.

The documentation itself came easily enough from our hospital and other expenditures. However, upon submitting it, all claims were rejected. FBMC claimed that we weren't eligible for some of the expenses and others didn't have supporting information. I submitted the same claim forms for three expenditures and the fourth occurred last September.

I concluded they have a deny-all policy. They claimed our account wasn't eligible for reimbursement until 10/1/07, despite the auto-deduct being effective 9/5/07 (the first pay check). After a few contacts back and fourth, they finally said the eligible reimbursement time had passed (3/31/08 was the last day to submit). How fortunate for us!

It is for this reason I scoff at HSA's and the idea of utilizing them further.

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