Saturday, April 9, 2011

Week # 14: Don't Forget the Medical Reimbursement Account

Total credit to Trish for this one. Though it's probably too late for others to put reimbursement requests in against last year's expenses, this is still a good reminder for anyone with an active reimbursement account for THIS year to put any pending claims in now. Don't wait until they are forgotten.

Every year our companies ask if we want to set money aside for the purpose of paying medical expenses with pretax dollars. I'm not very good at keeping track... just never seems to come to the top of the important stuff list.

Last year I did not contribute any money from MY check to a medical reimbursement account, but my employer seeded my reimbursement account with $250 for choosing a particular medical coverage for myself. I did file one claim early on when it was fresh in my mind, but I hadn't thought about that account in several months. And I wouldn't have thought about it to this day, except that Trish mentioned as we were sitting on the couch a couple of weeks ago that her deadline for filing pretax reimbursements was coming up at the end of March. She asked if I had any dollars in an account and any expenses to claim against it. I didn't think so, but the next day I took a look...

Sure enough, there was $169.89 of the original $250 still sitting there. Trish found a receipt for a new pair of glasses that I purchased last year. Without Trish's prompting I would have ignored the account altogether. I think it's a subconscious thing - I'm not a fan of the hassle in paperwork and justification that have sometimes been required in the past. However, this time it was relatively easy to make a quick copy of the receipt, print the reimbursement form located online, and fax the two together on March 30, the day before the deadline for claims. Just a few days later, I had an additional $170 in the bank.

Mark your calendars... In researching this a little bit, most medical reimbursement programs have a grace period for expenses that allow a couple of months of leeway for spending your pretax dollars. And most have a hard deadline for putting the paperwork in before the funds are forfeited... March 31 in the case of both of our companies, and it seems that's a fairly common date. Next year we'll be reviewing our elections and expenses from this year in January to make sure we spend and claim in plenty of time.

Savings from beating the pretax reimbursement deadline: $169.89

Total savings to date: $2,101.22

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