Friday, January 7, 2011

How NOT To Manage Your Health Care Flex Spending Account: A Primer by MommieV

Step 1:  Stress about Open Enrollment now that you have a baby to consider.  Freak out about how much the expensive daycare is that you are considering but haven't been accepted to yet.  Write down two dollar amounts on a piece of paper: one is how much you think you will spend on health care costs in the next year.  The other is how much you think you will spend on daycare in the next year.

Step 2:  Have a complicated work situation.  Like, quit working at one college in the state system, then get hired at another college in the state system.  Have the new college fight on your behalf - and win - to have you treated as a transfer and not a new hire.  Have this information be correct in some areas of the HR database system, but not in other areas, therefore putting off the time time you can complete Open Enrollment online.

Step 3.  Wait until the last possible day to complete your Open Enrollment.  Wait until around 3:00 in the afternoon.  Try to convince your whiny, clingy baby to sleep long enough for you to convince your laptop to log on to your parents wireless.  Make sure you are stressed out to the max before moving on to the next step.

Step 4.  In your crazed, hurried, hyper-stressed state, enter the amounts on the incorrect lines online.  I.e. switch the amount for expensive daycare and instead add it in the line that reads "Health Care Spending Account 2010".

Step 5.  Don't realize this until after you have accepted the spot at the expensive daycare and begun requesting reimbursements.

Step 6.  Realize that you now have $3,600 in your health care spending account to use before the end of the year.

Step 7.  Freak. Out.

Step 8.  Denial.  See how much money you end up spending in the course of the year.  Actually feel a little twinge of good when your kid doesn't pee for 8 hours and has to go to the ER and get catheterized because this is money coming out of the FSA, yo!

Step 9.  Do not begin the following steps until late November.

Step 10.  How much is still in there?  Wow, what the heck am I going to spend that on?

Step 11.  Go to Walgreens with your Benny card that uses money directly out of your FSA funds.  Buy all the Infant Acetominophen, Infant Ibuprofen, Orajel swabs, and Benadryl that you can fit into a basket.  Feel disappointed that you have only spent $200 on medicines that it will take you 6 months to use.

Step 12.  Go back to Walgreens with your Benny card and the accepted list of OTC meds that you can spend money on.  Buy two thermometers, a blood pressure monitor, contact solution, and other expensive items.  Fill up a large shopping cart.  Ignore the pharmacy technician that looks horrified that you want her to ring up the entire cart of items.  Smile when she looks confused that you purchased both spermicide and ovulation test kits.

Step 13.  Feel only slightly relieved when the total is $500.  How much is left to spend?

Step 14.  Spend one of the last days of the year at the eye doctor along with everyone else in the same boat.  Get an eye exam, a contact lens fitting, two pairs of reading glasses, a pair of regular glasses, and holy god how much do I have left to spend?

Step 15.  DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN.  The IRS isn't letting people buy $700 worth of OTC meds next year with their FSA money.

Step 16.  Finally find space in the cabinets and closets for all the Walgreens stuff.  Realize that you didn't buy any Midol.  How did that happen?

The Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by MommieV.  Who made damn sure she didn't switch the amounts this year.  She thinks.

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