This FAQ contains information regarding Benefits Open Enrollment.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
What is an FSA and how does it work?An FSA is an employer-sponsored spending account that allows employees to set aside pretax earnings to pay for eligible health care or dependent care expenses. Pretax funds are deducted from each paycheck and automatically deposited into an FSA account. Employees decide how much to contribute, tax-free, for the year.
What types of FSAs are available?There are two types of FSAs employers can offer to employees. Employees can participate in one or both:
- Medical FSA — This type of FSA allows employees to pay for eligible expenses that are not covered by the health plan, such as deductibles, coinsurance, dental care, orthodontia and vision care. The total amount the employee chooses to contribute is available to them on the first day of the plan year, even if they have not actually contributed that much yet.
- Dependent Care FSA — This type of FSA allows employees to pay for daycare expenses for their children under age 13 or for older dependents not capable of self-care needed to allow an employee to work. With a dependent care FSA, the money must be in the employee’s account before claims will be reimbursed.
What expenses are eligible?
Medical FSAs cover any out-of-pocket and unreimbursed medical expenses allowed under section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, except health insurance premiums and long-term care services. Eligible expenses include:
- New! Over-the-counter supplies, medications, and some feminine hygiene products
- Expenses for you, your spouse, and any health plan dependent
- Medical expenses not covered by your health plan, including:
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Copayments, coinsurance
- Prescription drugs
- Dental and vision care expenses
- Reminder: If you have an HSA, you will not be able to enroll in an FSA.
Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) FSAs can be used for day care or other dependent care expenses required to allow an individual to work. A complete list can be found at hellofurther.com.
How is an FSA funded?Employees make pretax contributions through automatic payroll deductions. Employers can also choose to contribute, up to a maximum amount.
What are the benefits of an FSA to employees?Pretax contributions lower taxable income, and reimbursements are made tax-free from the employee’s account. In addition, Medical FSAs give employees access to the entire elected amount on the first day of the plan year.
What is the main difference between an FSA and an HSA?With both an HSA and a FSA, account holders make tax-deductible contributions. HSAs are individually owned while FSAs are part of the employer’s cafeteria plan. Employers, family members and any other individuals can contribute to an HSA account. An FSA must be funded exclusively through employer contributions or employee pre-tax contributions. HSA balances continue forward until spent and an employee can take the account with them should they leave the company or retire. With an FSA, funds remaining at the end of the plan year might be forfeited to the employer, based on your plan.
Is a debit card available?
Yes. A Visa® Debit Card is available for eligible medical expenses, and can be used at the point of purchase or after care.
What happens to funds at the end of the year?
Unused money in an FSA account is handled in one of three ways based on the plan design*:
- Forfeited at the end of the plan year
- Rollover of up to $550 to the next plan year. Remaining balances are then forfeited.
- Grace Period allows expenses to be paid with old plan year funds for up to 2.5 months after the plan year ends. Remaining balances are then forfeited.
Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
What is an HSA and how does it work?
- A health savings account (HSA) is a savings account that you own that works with your HSA-qualified health plan
- Set aside a pre-tax portion of your income
- No taxes on money you deposit or withdraw to pay for eligible health care expenses
- Interest earned on the balance is tax-free
- No "use it or lose it" rule, unused money rolls over to the next year
- The money is yours to keep, even if you change jobs or retire
How do you benefit from an HSA?
- Ownership—You own the HSA, even if you change jobs, health plans or retire.
- Rollover—Unused funds roll over year to year for future health care expenses and retirement.
- Convenience—Online access lets you manage your HSA 24/7.
- Taxable income reduction—HSA contributions can be made before taxes, resulting in a lower taxable income.
- Tax-free earnings—Interest growth on HSA funds is never taxed.
- Tax-free distributions—HSA funds are not taxed when used for eligible expenses.
What expenses are eligible?
You can use your HSA to pay for:
- Medical expenses your plan doesn’t cover
- Expenses for you and any tax dependent
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses until you reach your deductible
- Copayments, coinsurance and prescription drugs
- Over the counter supplies, medications, and some feminine hygiene products
- Health insurance premiums
- COBRA during a job transition or postemployment
- Medicare (post-age 65)
- Some Long-Term Care insurance premiums
- Dental and vision care expenses not covered by your health plan
Things you can't use your HSA to pay for include:
- Family or marriage counseling
- Cosmetic surgery and procedures; teeth whitening
- Personal items such as toothpaste, lotions, makeup, soaps, or shaving supplies
- Supplements without a doctor’s diagnosis
- Fitness programs and exercise equipment
Always save your receipts to ensure proper validation of expenses, as required by the IRS.
How do I use my HSA?
You’ll receive a debit card to use for eligible medical expenses. You can use it at the time of your appointment or after you receive care.
What expenses can be paid from an HSA?
Any out-of-pocket medical expenses allowed under section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, including medical premiums (under limited circumstances) and long-term care expenses.
What documentation should I keep?
In case of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit, you should keep documentation, such as a receipt, for any funds withdrawn from an HSA to prove that funds were used for an eligible medical expense. All receipts should include the amount paid, who received the funds (payee’s name or code) and the date of service.
How is an HSA funded?
Contributions can be made by you, your employer or both. The HSA contribution limits for individual and family health plans change annually. The table below shows the current HSA contribution limits.
If you are 55 or older, you can make additional “catch-up” contributions of $1,000 towards the HSA (either individual or family coverage).
What HSA investment options are available?
There are three ways to invest your HSA funds:
- Base Balance—If you choose, you can leave the entire HSA balance with our vendor, ‘FurtherSM*, where it earns interest.
- Basic Investment Account—Once an HSA base balance exceeds $1,000, you can open a self-directed basic investment account. This gives you access to more than 30 mutual funds. At least $1,000 must be kept as the base balance of the HSA at all times.
- Charles Schwab Broker Investment Account—When the basic investment account balance exceeds $10,000, you can open a self-directed brokerage investment account with Charles Schwab. This account gives you access to more than 2,500 mutual funds from a variety of families, as well as stocks, bonds and other investments.
What can I manage online?
Log in or register at carefirst.com/myaccount. Under the My Coverage tab, click BlueFund HSA to:
- pay claims
- deposit funds
- store documentation and receipts
- reorder debit cards
- view account balances
Have additional questions about your HSA?
Call BlueFund Customer Service (CareFirst partner Further) at 866-758-6119, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.