We typically don’t shy away from free money, especially when it’s offered through work. The Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is something we take advantage of every year. This year is the first year we participated in it at my current company and OMG, I’m not participating next year. Yep, I’m paying taxes on that money and using it how I please, because they have made it so cumbersome, that even tax free, it’s not worth the hassle. That’s it, rant over, thanks for stopping by. Kidding, but if you want to find out how bad it really is, read on.
We WERE Spoiled
Our last company was fairly liberal with their FSA. They had spending cards you could use like a debit card, and if things were covered it would get split out at the register at the time of payment. It was super convenient. You need some over the counter (OTC) drugs, medicine, what not, no problem, just pick it up and use the card. Our family suffers from seasonal allergies, so this was easy enough for us to use and even if it got close to the end of the year and we had money left over (not likely with young kids) we could spend the last of it in this manner.
Throughout the year, we could also submit receipts if we didn’t have our card on us when we went to purchase something. It was a fairly painless process – log in – submit receipt – receive check a week or so later. Easy Peasy. Not so at my current company. Lord did we have it easy and not know it…
How It’s Overly Cumbersome
This is the first year we’ve had to use my company’s FSA, since we had just stuck with using Mrs. SSC’s company for the FSA portion. Ah, the joy of having 2 decent options to choose from. While my company rules on everything else health related, their FSA is set up to be so restrictive, it’s not even worth it. I contributed $500 to mine this year as a hedge against a run of ear infections, colds, or who knows what else may go on with kids. It’s a pretty safe bet we’ll spend it somewhere throughout the year though, so I wasn’t too worried about it.
Earlier last month, I remembered I had put that money in the account, but couldn’t remember if we had spent it, so I called to get a balance and request a spending card, so we could get that dealt with. Then I found out my company doesn’t support spending cards. Nope, you can’t use a card to cover anything. We pay out of pocket and then submit the receipt for reimbursement. Okay, not the end of the world, Except.
A typical receipt doesn’t cut it. It needs to have the providers name on it, my name on it, the reason it was charged on it, and the medical reason. So, the reason it’s charged might be copay for dr visit, but they want to know dr. visit for what. That calls for another form to be filled out and submitted. The lady I spoke with said it typically takes 2-3 submissions before a claim is authorized. Ugh…
Over the Counter Needs a Prescription?! WTF?!
Yep, the laundry list of items that are over the counter (OTC) and typically covered in most FSA’s (I’m not just ranting on nothing right, aren’t those covered in your plans?) have to have a prescription. A frigging prescription for Ibuprofen, Advil, Allergy Medicine, Sudafed, cold medicine, things we can walk into any 7-11 and walk out with in our hand via no prescription because they’re OVER THE COUNTER…. Oh Lord, my blood pressure gets raised just typing this.
If we want it to be reimbursed, we need a doctor to fill out a Form documenting that it’s a medical necessity – yeah more forms, or we need to schedule an appointment, go to the office, get them to write a prescription for anything we’d need to purchase OTC. How does that make sense at all?! Man, our system is SO jacked up.
Here’s the list of things that we can buy without a prescription, and maybe I should look into a blood pressure monitor.
Cold and Hot Packs
Blood pressure monitor
Band aids and bandages
First aid kits and first aid supplies
That’s it. Well, there were a few things that weren’t applicable to our family, but for anything we could use, it’s limited to the above list.
Thanks, but no thanks, you can keep it. That was the alst straw for me. I’ll pay the taxes if it means I don’t have to deal with Payflex, these forms, or anything to do with that cockamamie system. We still use the Dependent Spending Account (have you seen our daycare bill?) and it works great, but no more FSA for me next year.
Are all FSA’s this restrictive? Did we luck out the last 8 years with a great plan at our last company? Does anyone else think their FSA blows too?
Let me know, because misery loves company.