The Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HFSA) allows you to stretch your budget further. The HFSA is a voluntary pretax benefit plan that allows you to set aside money from your paycheck to be used to pay the out-of-pocket medical, prescription, dental and vision expenses that you and your dependents incur.
You never pay taxes on the money you put into your account, giving you more bang for your buck when you use pretax money to reimburse qualified healthcare expenses.
How does it work?
Step 1: You will receive a WageWorks Healthcare Card.
Step 2: Use your card just like a debit card at your doctor’s office, pharmacy and more to pay for qualified expenses for instant reimbursement.
Selecting an Election Amount
- Three things to keep in mind when selecting an election amount:
- 1. Your total election amount is available on May 1, 2018 - April 30, 2019 so the HFSA can help regulate your healthcare spending and take care of the unexpected expenses along the way.
- 2. Employees minimum annual election amount is $240 and the maximum is $2,550.
- 3. As a HFSA participant, you still have the 90-day Run-Out period (May 1, 2018 – July 31, 2019) to file claims and request reimbursement for expenses incurred prior to the end of the HFSA plan year April 30, 2019.
NOTE Any unused HFSA funds as of April 30, 2019 will be lost and forfeited so it is important to elect an amount that you will use between May 1, 2018 - April 30, 2019.Examples of qualified expenses include:
- Copayments, coinsurance and deductibles for medical, vision and dental services
- Eyeglasses, reading glasses, contact lenses and contact lens solution
- Bandages and related items
- First aid kits
- Hearing aids and batteries
- Medical equipment
- Lab fees and diagnostic services
- Hospital services and fees
How do I manage my HFSA?
Changing your election
After the annual open enrollment, you can only change your HFSA election during the plan year if you have a change in family status. Events such as marriage, divorce, legal separation, or birth of a child allow you to increase your annual contribution, but only up to a maximum of $2,550. You may not reduce or stop contributing during the plan year.
Changes for HFSA Plan Year May 1, 2018 – April 30, 2019
The carryover option exercised in prior years for the HFSA will not be allowed for the 2018-2019 HFSA benefit plan year. This means that participants who enrolled in last year’s healthcare flexible spending account for May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018 will be allowed to carryover unused election amounts between $50 to $500 on May 1, 2018 and be able to use these funds until April 30, 2019.
Participants who enroll in this year’s 2018-2019 HFSA will not have the option to carry over any remaining funds. This means that participants need to use all their elected HFSA funds, or the participant will lose any remaining funds beyond April 30, 2019.
Please note that as an HFSA participant you still have the 90-day Run-Out period (May 1, 2018 - July 31, 2019) to file claims and request reimbursement for expenses incurred prior to the end of the HFSA plan year April 30, 2019. After this time, all remaining money is forfeited.
Important to Know
- If you separate from the City of Houston, your HFSA card will be terminated immediately and you will no longer be able to use the card. However, you will have 90 days after your termination date to file any pending claims incurred prior to your termination date for the plan year beginning May 1, 2018.
- If you are out on leave and no longer receiving pay, your HFSA card will be suspended. Upon your return to work, your deduction will be recalculated.
- If you do not return to work, your card will be terminated and you will no longer be able to use the card. However, you will have 90 days after your termination date to file any pending claims for the plan year beginning May 1, 2018.
How much should I contribute?
How much did you pay in copayments this year for doctor and dental visits? For prescriptions? Plan to get a new pair of glasses this year? Are you expecting to go to the hospital early next year? What’s the mileage to and from your doctor? Use these questions to estimate your expenses for next year. View the calculation worksheet.
To estimate how much you should contribute to your HFSA, add up the anticipated costs for routine medical and dental checkups and for major expenses, such as braces, for you and your family that will not be reimbursed by any other insurance plan. Estimate what you will spend May through April. Any expense the IRS considers deductible and that is not reimbursed through a health plan is eligible for reimbursement from your HFSA.
Some of the most common reimbursable expenses are deductibles, copayments, contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids, and prescription-drug copayments.
Expenses not recognized by the IRS, and not reimbursable, include cosmetic surgery and health-club dues for general health purposes.
This is the right answer for me!
Enrollment is voluntary and is as easy as completing an enrollment form available online during the open enrollment period through the Employee Self Service portal at portal.houstontx.gov.
You can only enroll in this benefit during open enrollment, and your election is valid for the upcoming plan year only. You will have to enroll every year during the annual open-enrollment period.
Employees who begin work after May 1 can enroll during the first 90 days of employment. Coverage is effective on the 1st or 16th of the month after 90 days of employment. Your enrollment is valid for the rest of that plan year.
Is it easy to file a claim?
It’s as easy as sending a fax. And now it's even easier with the WageWorks card. With the WageWorks card you canccess your HFSA funds so you don't have to use your out-of-pocket dollars.
The WageWorks card will be accepted at the following health care providers:
- Doctor's office
- Dental provider
- Vision care provider
To file a claim for reimbursement from your account, obtain the Healthcare Flexible Spending Account claim form from the benefits division or fill out the Healthcare Flexible Spending Account claim form Provide the required documentation for your eligible health-care expense.
Most official reciepts from your doctor's office will work. They must show the following:
- The name of the service provider
- A description of the service or a list of the supplies furnished
- The charge(s) for each service
- The date(s) of service
- The name of the person(s) receiving the service
Fax your completed form and receipts to 877-353-9256, or mail them the address below:
1932 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31999-9950
Claims are paid every Tuesday, barring a holiday.
You can expect to receive your reimbursement check within 10 days after the Tuesday processing schedule. Most claims are paid and mailed within seven days. You can receive faster payments if you sign up for direct deposit. Or, get instant reimbursement by using your Aflac Now card to pay for your eligible expenses.
Changes in family status
Because the plan allows you to reduce your taxable income, the IRS has some rules about making changes to your HFSA account outside of open enrollment.
During a plan year, you can increase your contribution amount only if you experience a change in family status. Changes in family status, as defined by the IRS, include the following:
- Marriage or divorce
- Gaining or losing a dependent
- Termination or commencement of your spouse’s employment
- A change in job status from full-time to part-time or vice versa for you or your spouse
A child turning age 18 is not a change in family status.
If you have a change in family status, log on to ESS at portal.houstontx.gov and update your dependents status. Submit relationship documetns to Benefits at 611 Walker, 4th floor. The change must be consistent with the change in your family status. You may not reduce or stop contributing during the plan year.
Any change you make will apply for the rest of the plan year, unless you have another change in family status.
Take a look at the HFSA FAQ for aditional information or inquiries you may need answered.