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Health Notes

   Health  By Deborah Stayman


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Sign up for Flex Spending by 11/8 to save on your 2020 taxes

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

The Flex Spending Account (FSA) is a program PEF and the state negotiated to help members save money on their taxes. The FSA’s two benefits — the Health Care Spending Account (HCSAccount) and the Dependent Care Advantage Account (DCAAccount) — help you pay for health care or dependent care with pre-tax dollars. This reduces your taxable income for 2020.

The open enrollment period for the 2020 FSA is October 7 through November 8, 2019. This period applies to both the HCSAccount and the DCAAccount.

Even if you enrolled last year in one or both of these programs for 2019, you must enroll again this year if you want to participate in 2020.

Enrolling in either benefit is voluntary. Savings will vary depending on your annual income, the number of dependents you claim on your taxes, and the amount of money you contribute through payroll deductions to your HCSAccount and/or DCAAccount.

An on-line enrollment process allows you to enroll at www.flexspend.ny.gov.

There are no paper forms to mail in. You may also enroll by calling 1-800-358-7202 and a customer service representative will take your application. If you have additional questions you may email them to vog.y1627455975n.reo1627455975g@asf1627455975.

New HCSAccount debit card

The HCSAccount now has a debit card called the WageWorks Healthcare Card, which enables enrollees to pay for copayments and other out-of-pocket costs at the time of service. When you use the card to pay for eligible expenses, funds are electronically deducted from your Health Care Spending Account.

There is no annual fee for the card. Each enrollee will be issued two cards initially. If you need a third card you may request one from WageWorks Customer Service at 800-358-7202.

How HCSA works

If eligible, you may contribute any amount from $100 to $2,700 annually in pre-tax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket medical, dental, vision, or hearing costs in 2020 that are not reimbursed by health insurance. The new maximum of $2,700 is the maximum annual election allowed by the federal government.

Some examples of allowable costs are office visit and prescription drug copayments, dental implants, and orthodontia fees paid to non-participating providers, deductibles, laser eye surgery and contact lenses.

Federal law limits OTC drug reimbursement. Over-the-counter drugs, medicines, and biologicals require a doctor’s prescription to be eligible for reimbursement under the HCSAccount. Other OTC products (e.g., hearing aid batteries, Band-Aids and contact lens solution) are not affected by the law.

Enrolling in the HCSAccount — To enroll for 2020, you must first estimate your annual out-of-pocket health care costs, and then decide how much money to have withheld from your paycheck. It’s important to estimate conservatively, because if you don’t file claims for reimbursement of the entire amount, you will lose any remaining funds.

The HCSA enrollment deadline will likely come before the 2020 health plan rates are released. Because the health insurance plan rates for 2020 may not be available by the FSA enrollment deadline of November 8, 2019, you will have an opportunity to make changes to your withholding for the 2020 HCSAccount. After enrolling, you will receive a confirmation notice in the mail that allows you to change your withholding amount. The deadline to submit such changes will be December 9, 2019.

Filing HCSAccount claims — If you do enroll in HCSA for 2020, you may mail or fax claims, then receive reimbursement by check or direct deposit.

You now will have the additional option of using a new smartphone app to submit claims. You can download the WageWorks EZ Receipts app to your smartphone and it will allow you to file and manage your reimbursement claims and debit card usage paperwork on the spot with a click of your smartphone or mobile device camera from anywhere.

An online-claims-submission process enables enrollees to submit reimbursement requests for the HCSAccount and the DCAAccount online through www.myFBMC.com.  The simple, two-step process allows enrollees to upload scanned images of completed claim forms along with scans of supporting documents.  Submitting reimbursement requests online is fast, easy and secure, and will speed the payment of FSA funds to enrollees.

How does the DCAAccount work?

If you pay a caregiver to care for your child, elderly parent, or disabled spouse in order to work, you can set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax salary through payroll deduction to help pay for these expenses.

The state has confirmed that PEF-represented employees will receive employer contributions to their DCAAccounts in 2020. The schedule of employer contributions for 2020 is:

• $800 for employees earning up to $30,000;
• $700 for employees earning $30,001 to $40,000;
• $600 for those earning $40,001 to $50,000;
• $500 for those earning $50,001 to $60,000;
• $400 for those earning $60,001 to $70,000; and
• $300 for those earning $70,001 or more.

Examples of expenses eligible for DCAAccount reimbursement include child care expenses for children under age 13, summer day camp, before/after school programs, adult day care, home aide. Payments to a housekeeper or cook who also provide custodial care may be eligible for reimbursement.

You must pay the expenses first and then submit claims for reimbursement from your DCAAccount.

Remember, the open enrollment period for the 2020 DCAAccount is October 7 through November 8, 2019. You may enroll on-line at www.flexspend.ny.gov or by calling 1-800-358-7202. A customer service representative will take your application. If you have additional questions you may email them to vog.y1627455975n.reo1627455975g@asf1627455975.

Employees who do not enroll in the 2020 plan year during the open-enrollment window in 2019, will be eligible for the employer contribution if they enroll with an eligible change in status (CIS) within 60 days of the eligible CIS event (such as giving birth to or adopting a child), and they will have the employer contribution applied to their DCAAccount for the remainder of the plan year.

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