Friday, April 29, 2011

Venting About Grown-Up Problems: Flexible Spending Accounts

And now...for more rantings about the problems one encounters as an adult.  Contrary to what the subject title may tell you, I am actually in love with FSAs (Flexible Spending Accounts).  I am just wildly upset because of circumstances that were well within my control if I hadn't procrastinated.

I just made a sinking realization that I may have screwed myself out of my pre-tax Health Savings Account plan through work because I still have a balance on my Flexible Savings Account that, for the life of me, I cannot seem to get rid of.  I got a massage on Wednesday, but their card reader was messed up and the transaction wouldn't go through, so she took down my information on a manual slip.  I called today to confirm if that charge has been made and it hadn't yet, but she promised to do it this afternoon.  There seems to be several days' delay on these things, so it's not like I can see my charges in real time. 

Well, even after that, I had/have another $20 and some change to get rid of, so I went to Target thinking I would get some stuff like Band-aids and contact solution to eat up the rest, but I had to do so while making sure I still had the right amount left to cover the massage.  I figured I'd work it so that the amount I spent over the $20 and change would get charged to my debit card, and the specific amount that I needed would get charged to the benefits card.  Except that the guy at check-out didn't really understand what I was trying to do and the whole amount ended up getting charged to the benefits card, which was bad because then I wouldn't have enough to cover the fee for the massage, etc.  So he voided it and I just paid for the stuff out of pocket and figured I'd have to suck it up and submit a claim.

Well, I know for a fact that that will take even longer, and what's worse is that it looks like everything has to be processed against your account by year's end, so the plan administrator's web site says, "Give yourself at least 4 days before your employer's plan year end to zero out your account balance yada yada yada".  Our plan year ends tomorrow.  On a Saturday.

Are you on the edge of your seat yet?  Because it gets better.

So tonight after I got home I got the brilliant idea to just go back out to a drug store and try eating up the balance on the card again with yet more contact solution and Band-Aids. But guess what? It takes about 24 hours for a voided charge to clear the bank, so my card was declined.  Mind you,  I'm not doing this within standard business days/hours at this point, so...basically, I'm screwed.  Oh, and before we even got to this horrible realization at the cash register, I spent 15-20 minutes pacing the aisles trying to buy things to equal as close to $18.44 as possible because that's how much I would need to spend before the tax is added to get to $20.15.  The woman at the register thought I was crazy and/or stupid, I was apologizing left and right, and of course she was the only one at the check out so there were people waiting behind me.  Mercifully, they were all patient because I think they picked up on the strong scent of Desperation I was throwing off.  I ended up slinking out of Walgreens in shame, empty-handed.

I've been Googling this for the last 10 minutes and I really do think that because my account balance will probably not show $0.00 by May 1st, that will lock me out of the Health Savings Plan for a full year.  Cripes!  There goes my lovely pre-tax benefit unless I am super diligent and a.) set up my own savings account and contribute to it after taxes, plus b.) save each and every receipt so that next year come tax time, I can itemize all of my health expenses and lower my tax liability.  Oh, and because this the first year we're doing this, my employer was going to give everyone who participated in this particular plan $250 of "seed" money for our account this one time only.  According to everything I've read so far, I will lose that too.

This is where I pull what is known as a *headdesk*.

I suppose the good news is that I did opt to sign up for a limited FSA, which I can use to cover stuff like my contact lenses and eye glasses, so that should still be intact.  Also, my health insurance plan is quite good and fully covers preventative procedures, which is pretty much all I do in a given year anyway.  I was just so looking forward to continuing to take advantage of that sweet pre-tax benefit and the super convenient benefits debit card and all that jazz.  I wanted that safety cushion in case I did happen to incur some decent medical expenses this year because I switched to the lower premium high-deductible Consumer Directed Health Plan.  I guess I should really count myself fortunate that I even have insurance and that it's quite comprehensive at that.  This is what we call a "high rent problem", like having long legs and a full head of naturally curly hair (which I do).  Still...this is mostly just a highly potent annoying reminder of why you don't procrastinate on the things that matter.

Okay, you know what?  It's past 9:30 now and I've been running on 2 hours of sleep and double-shot espresso.  It's time to call it a day.