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FAQs: Flexible Spending Accounts

1. What is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
FSAs let you pay for many of your out-of-pocket medical or day care expenses with tax-free dollars. You decide how much of your pre-tax wages you want taken out of your paycheck and put into an FSA. You don’t have to pay taxes on this money.

2. Do FSAs have any restrictions?

  • You must use the money contributed to your FSA account during the calendar year; it does not carry over from year to year.
  • The IRS allows you to be reimbursed for health care and dependent day care expenses incurred during a two-and-a-half-month grace period after the end of the plan year. This means expenses incurred from Jan. 1 - March 15 can be claimed against your previous year's FSA. You then have until April 15 to request reimbursement for funds sheltered in the previous year's FSA.
  • To continue an FSA each calendar year, you must elect to enroll in an FSA during Open Enrollment. The FSA start date will be January 1 of the next calendar year.

3. Are there different types of FSAs?
Yes, there are two types: Health Care FSA and Dependent Day Care FSA. You can enroll in one or both FSAs.

4. I am a new employee. How do I enroll in an FSA?
New employees can enroll in an FSA on the My VUMC Benefits website. Your FSA payroll deductions and eligibility begin the first of the month after three months of employment. For example, if you were hired on July 10, your payroll deductions and eligibility to file claims would start Nov. 1. The amount you elect will be deducted over the number of pay periods remaining in the year.

5. I am a current employee. How do I enroll in an FSA or make changes to an FSA?
You can enroll or change your FSA elections during Open Enrollment (usually in the fall). If you have a qualifying life event, such as marriage or birth of a child, you can also enroll or make changes.

6. How do I access the money in my FSA?
You can pay for the eligible expenses out-of-pocket and then submit a claim form. There are three ways to submit a claim:

  1. Online using the benefitexpress website. Log in with your VUnetID and ePassword and then click on View My Reimbursement Account.
  2. Fax a receipt and claim form to 1.253.793.3766.
  3. Email a claim form, along with receipts, to

If you have a Health Care FSA, you can also use the benefitexpress MasterCard for eligible medical expenses. Read more about the card in the FAQs below.

7. What is the deadline to submit claims for 2016 expenses?
April 15, 2017

8. How does the benefitexpress MasterCard work?
The health care card issued by benefitexpress is a convenient way to pay for eligible, unreimbursed medical expenses. You can access the money in your FSA when you swipe the card at the point of service; for instance, at a doctor's office or pharmacy. The health care card is not a credit card, although it carries the MasterCard logo for convenience.

  • You must keep all receipts when you use the card. The IRS requires benefitexpress to verify that purchases made with the card were for eligible medical expenses. If the merchant does not transmit sufficient information at the time of purchase, you will be required to mail or fax receipts.
  • If you have unverified expenses for more than 60 days, your card will be deactivated. If that happens, you must provide receipts to verify those purchases to get your card reactivated. It takes 48 hours to reactivate your card.

9. How do I use the health care card?
You can use your health care card to pay for eligible expenses almost anywhere you purchase health care services or products — providing the merchant is approved. Simply swipe the card at the register (select "Credit" if asked) and funds are deducted automatically from your FSA.

10. How do I know if a merchant is approved for the health care card?
Doctors, dentists and vision providers should all be approved merchants. Pharmacies, grocery stores, warehouse stores, and online stores must be IIAS certified.

11. What happens if I swipe my health care card for an amount greater than the available balance?
If the account balance is not sufficient to cover the transaction amount, the transaction will be declined through the card network at the point of purchase. You will need to use another form of payment and then request reimbursement by submitting claim form for the amount that is available in your account.

12. What happens if I buy something with the health care card that is not an eligible purchase?
The criteria for approving the transaction for payment are:

  • the card is activated
  • the account has a balance sufficient to cover the transaction amount
  • the merchant is likely to sell or provide eligible health care products and services

If a transaction is approved based on these criteria, money is transferred from your FSA to the merchant. Benefitexpress reviews the information they receive from the point-of-sale for each card transaction. If the transaction cannot be verified after the review process, the unverified transaction will be listed on a letter sent to you from benefitexpress each quarter. You must either:

  1. provide a detailed receipt showing a) the name of the patient, b) date of service, and c) description of services provided
  2. submit a substitute receipt for another eligible unreimbursed health expense
  3. Send a payment to repay your account for the amount

13. Why do I need to save my receipts for health care card transactions?
FSAs are regulated by the IRS. Money in those accounts is not taxed as income and therefore can only be used for eligible expenses (medical or dependent care). If you are contacted by the IRS or benefitexpress to show proof that you have used those dollars appropriately, you must have receipts available to do so.

14. Who should I contact if I have a question about my FSA?
Benefitexpress is VUMC's FSA administrator. Contact their customer service representatives at 1.844.489.3745 or