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Fighting About My FSA

September 2, 2014

When my company’s enrollment time came for insurance companies, I decided to take advantage of the flexible spending account (FSA) option available to us. With an FSA, I’d be able to set aside money, pre-tax, for medical expenses. I’d be able to save money in the long run for these necessities.

It was a win-win. Except sometimes things can get a little difficult if you don’t pay attention.

Back in May I got a big bill from Liberty Medical for supplies. “This is great,” I thought. “They’re medical supplies. I’ll just use my FSA to pay for them and not have to worry about it again.”

Then I goofed a little. I threw out the itemized bill Liberty sent me. (Actually, I goofed a lot by doing that.)

My FSA disputed the charge. They wanted to see the itemized bill.

I contacted Liberty and was told they’d mail me an itemized bill to show where the charge (in this case, $1,009.64) went. However, when they sent the bill, it covered every single transaction I’d made in the calendar year. There was no way to discern where the $1,009.64 bill came from.

I thought I’d take chance and scanned it in, submitting the PDF to the FSA.

Nope. They rejected it again. They said they wanted to see an itemized bill. However, they never told me this. They rejected it without any communication.

And time went on.

I found out about the problem just a couple weeks ago when I went to my pharmacy to get my monthly insulin prescription. I tried to pay with my FSA account. Nope. It was rejected.

“What the what?!” I thought. Then my mind tracked back and I realized I had to get the Liberty bill settled. I called Liberty and told them I needed an itemized bill for the $1,009.64 transaction. Could they send it post-haste? They were very accommodating. (Big ups to Liberty, a company I’ve raked over the coals in the past for poor customer service. They came through this time.)

It was the same itemized bill they’d previously sent, listing all of my transactions from the calendar year. However, two transactions were highlighted (with pink highlighter), which, if added together, totaled $1,009.64. They were dated two days later than my FSA transaction, but Liberty’s had a problem with the timeliness of their processing in the past. I didn’t think anything of it.

I scanned the new(ish) receipt in. I uploaded it on the FSA’s website. I called the next morning.

I spent a half hour on hold before I could talk to anyone. As I was at work, this wasn’t acceptable, so I called back at lunch.

At that time, I spoke with a lovely individual who said she’d do her best to help me. I decided to deal with the receipt issue first. I told her about the past history and the new receipt. I wanted to get the issue cleared up, I said. She reviewed my upload and said someone from accounting would have to review the receipt itself to ensure it was acceptable.

“OK,” I said. (That seemed reasonable to me.)

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?” she asked.

“Yes, actually, there is,” I told her. “I went to get a prescription the other day and my card was rejected. I wanted to find out why and get that cleared up.”

“Yes,” she said, “the card was rejected because your account had a hold placed on it until this issue was resolved.”

“OK,” I said. “So now it’s resolved and my account can be unfrozen.”

“Well,” she demurred. “We can’t take the hold off until someone from accounting has reviewed the case.”

Now I was getting irritated. You see, the FSA’s funds are MY money. I pay into the account every paycheck. What was happening was the FSA was deciding that I could no longer have access to my funds, even though I submitted the receipts as soon as I realized there was an issue. (Their communications have to be improved.)

“Is there someone else I can speak with?” I enquired.

“There’s no one available in the accounting department now,” she said. And from her tone (which, to this point, had been very professional, but seemed to change to show that I was now becoming an annoyance), seemed to show that I had reached my allotment of help for that call.

She didn’t realize I’m not an individual to go out like that.

“Well,” I said, a little sharper now, “I’d like to speak to your supervisor. …”

“Let …” she said.

“… Because what you’re doing is stealing my money. It is MY money in that FSA …”

“Let …” she squeaked.

“… And it’s fraud to say MY ACCOUNT can be used to pay for medical supplies, but once you dispute a charge you’ll completely shut down an account and try to take MY MONEY.”

“Mr. Hegarty,” she finally broke in. “Please let me get my supervisor and I’ll have him do a spot review right now.”

“OK,” I said.

I spent another 10 minutes on hold, but her supervisor did review my account. The receipt was approved. The account was unfrozen. Tones changed again.

“Is there anything else I can do to help you today, Mr. Hegarty?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” I told her. “And I appreciate your help.”

Because I really did.

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