Sunday, April 27, 2008

Flexible Spending Account

Boy are things different than they were a year ago.

In 2007, we officially used up our $1500 flexible spending account in September. That didn't count that $850 or so that was our share of my 8-day July hospital stay. (And that was a real bargain considering the bill was just shy of $20,000 before the insurance company cut it down and paid their share.)

This year, we spent the $1700 we're contributing to our 2008 FSA on April 21. There were occasional medical bills that got paid other ways, such as for my rheumatologist who only accepts cash or checks or Ellie's visit to the ER for a dislocated elbow, because it was easier not to bother submitting the receipts for reimbursement.

I guess we were feeling optimistic last November when we had to set up the 2008 FSA plan because we certainly could have benefited from having more money taken out in pre-tax dollars for medical expenses.

Even though I'm frugal with money, I really sort of wish we'd had such a light year for medical expenses that we'd ended up losing cash in the account or needing to find excuses to spend it on things like prescription sunglasses as the end of the year nears.

Wouldn't it be nice to be that healthy?

We settled on $1700 because that's the individual out-of-pocket maximum on our health insurance. But when we were making these decisions, I neglected to account for co-pays for medicine, which don't count towards our out-of-pocket maximum. (Boy do I wish it did!)

My fees for acupuncture also don't count toward that calculation since hardly any insurance plans seem to really cover alternative medicine in a thorough way. (Our insurance gets us an "affinity discount" of 25 percent from participating providers. I'm happy to get the discount, but $45 per session still adds up pretty rapidly.) And it's a shame because I think the acupuncture is the most helpful treatment I've had since getting sick, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to continue.

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