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Q&A: Flexible Spending

 

 

Q: What is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?

A: A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a benefit plan administered by PacificSource Administrators which allows you to pay  for out-of-pocket health care or dependent/childcare expenses with pre-tax dollars.


Q: Why would I want an FSA?

A: The bottom line is you will pay less in taxes.  By using an FSA to set aside money for eligible expenses, you can pay for specific medical items and services and/or child/dependent care with pre-tax dollars that you would otherwise have to wait and claim on your taxes or you avoid having to itemize on your taxes to receive the credits or deductions.


Q:Who should have an FSA?

A: Anyone with predictable out-of-pocket healthcare or, in some cases, dependent/childcare expenses.


Q: When can I enroll?

A:  Open Enrollment for FSA is the same period for health insurance (typically mid August – mid September) each year and is the only time that current employees can enroll.  New hire or employees that become benefit eligible in the middle of the year, may also enroll during their initial enrollment period, the first 30 days in their benefit eligible position.

The plan year is from October 1st through September 30th of each year.


Q: How can I learn more?

A: You can visit PacificSource Administrators web page for specific FAQ’s:

A: You can call PacificSource Administrators at 541-485-7488 or 800-422-7038.

A: You can call the HR Office at 541-790-7660.


Q: What are Eligible Expenses?

A: There are many eligible expenses and the list changes according to medical and IRS guidelines so the best way to check is to click on the link below which will take you to the list that PacificSource Adminstrators updates.

https://psa.pacificsource.com/Eligible_Expenses.aspx


Q: Can I submit my monthly health insurance premiums as healthcare expenses?

A: No.  Monthly health insurance premiums (either paid directly from paychecks or separately for non-4J plans) are not eligible for reimbursement under the FSA.  Remember all 4J monthly premiums are automatically deducted pre-tax.


Q: Can I submit expenses incurred by other family members?

A: Yes.  You can submit expenses incurred by anyone you claim as a dependent on your taxes.


Q: Do I need to be enrolled in the District health insurance plan to have an FSA?

A: No.  As long as you are ELIGIBLE for District insurance benefits, you can enroll in the FSA plan, even if you waive the health insurance.


Q: How do I sign up?

A: If you are a new benefit eligible employee please contact the benefits department at 541-790-7660 to request an enrollment form.  
A: During Open Enrollment you will need to see specific instructions contained in the Benefit Essentials packet for enrollment.  This is now done online – during open enrollment period only!


Q: Is the same amount taken out of my paycheck every month?

A: Yes, you must elect an annual amount that will be equally divided among each of your paychecks for the entire benefit year. For Health Related FSA, the entire annual amount you elect is available for you to use at the beginning of the plan year or when you are initially eligible (if joining mid-year as a new hire) and you can spend it as needed, even if you haven’t accumulated the entire amount via payroll deductions.

Example:  You enroll during open enrollment and elect $1200 for the benefit year beginning October 1st.  On October 15th you take your child to the orthodontist to get braces. You can spend the entire $1200 if you choose towards those covered orthodontist visits/services.

Dependent-care and health-care deductions are held in separate accounts so you must specify the type of expense and amount to be deducted for each category.  Dependent Care expenses can only be used as you accrue them.

Example:  You elect $2000 for your annual election for dependent care.  Your monthly deduction (if you receive 12 checks) is $166.66.  You can request reimbursement or apply the $166.66 toward your recurring and eligible monthly expenses or you can wait to claim your expenses when your incurred amount is over your available balance.


Q: How do I get reimbursed?

A: There are two ways to get reimbursed for your eligible expenses.

  • Health Related Expenses
    • Most people take advantage of the Benny Card.  The Benny Card is a debit card that is preloaded with your annual election and you can use it to pay for eligible expenses (co-pays at the dr. office, prescriptions at the pharmacy, paying bills that you receive for services that were incurred during the benefit year).  For more details on the Benny Card see here: https://psa.pacificsource.com/Benny_Card.aspx
    • If you have expenses that you have paid for or were unable to use your Benny Card for, you can file a claim online or complete the paper form and submit it to PacificSource.  They will mail you a check or can even do a direct deposit if you would prefer.  For more details see here: https://psa.pacificsource.com/Flex/Request_Reimbursement/
  • Dependent Care Expenses

Q: What if I don’t use up all the money in my spending account during the year?

A: This is the tricky part of participating in the program.

Health Related Expense Accounts:  Recent changes in the IRS guidelines have allowed employers to allow a rollover amount of $500 at the end of the benefit year for Health Related Expense accounts.  If you have any funds left that haven’t been used, that amount, up to $500 will roll over into the following benefit year plan.  For this reason, it is important to carefully analyze your needs.

For example, child-care expenses may be very predictable, allowing you to specify an exact amount to be deducted. Health-care expenses may not be as predictable. You can base your deduction on previous years’ expenses, knowing that you can use excess amounts toward the end of the year to buy new glasses or other items you might have waited to purchase.

Dependent Care Accounts: You will forfeit any remaining money in your account at the end of the benefit year, typically September 30th.


Q: Is there a cost to participate in the program?

A: No. The flexible spending account program is a no-cost benefit the district offers its employees to help offset the increasing cost of health and child care.


Q: Once I’m participating, how can I access my account information?

A: Once you enroll, PacificSource will mail you an account number (they refer to it as a ZZMAN number) which you can use to enter the MyFlex area of their web site.  This feature allows you to:

  • Access information on the most recent reimbursement payments, including payment dates and amounts
  • See payment details, including account type and form of payment
  • View recently submitted claims along with their payment status
  • Check account balances, annual elections, and deposits

A:  PacificSource will send your Benny Card to your home address after enrollment.  You will likely get 2 cards for you to use and one for your spouse or other family member to use.  They will not send a new card each year.  They will reload it year to year as you re-enroll.


Q: How do I make changes to my account information (address, dependent care election amounts, etc)?

A: Changes to your personal information such as names, addresses and such are reported to PacificSource when you change them with 4J.

A:  You are not allowed to change the amount you elect for your Health Related expenses, under any circumstances.  You will automatically terminate from the enrollment if you lose benefit eligibility or are no longer employed by the district.

A:  Dependent Care elections may change but only in very specific circumstances and must be changed within 31 days of a qualified status change.
Example:  You are enrolled in Dependent Care coverage so that you and your spouse can work.   Part way through the benefit year, your spouse no longer is working.  You can cancel or reduce the amount you elect if you no longer need dependent care.  This change must be requested through HR within 31 days of your spouses employment change.
Find out more about qualifying events that allow midyear changes here: Qualifying Events and Midyear Change Rules


Q: Can I fax my enrollment form?
A: Yes if you are a new benefit eligible employee enrolling in the middle of a benefit year, enrollment forms can be faxed to (541) 790-7674.  No need to send us the original.

A:  During Open Enrollment, enrollment is done online only.


Q: How can I be sure my fax went through?

A: The best way is to get a confirmation report from the fax machine you used to send it.  Keep the confirmation and your original enrollment form in your records.


Q: Can I send my enrollment form through district mail?

A: Yes if you are a new benefit eligible employee enrollment in the middle of a benefit year.  Please be aware that this is the slowest and least recommended way to provide your form.  The forms MUST be in HR office by the enrollment deadline.

A:  During Open Enrollment, enrollment is done online only.


Q: Can I call to make sure Human Resources received my enrollment form?

A: Yes, you can call the Human Resources Main Line at 790-7660.  New forms that arrive will be sorted each evening, so please allow 24 hours before calling to confirm receipt.