Over the course of a year, employees can have a certain amount (of their choice) withheld from each paycheck, pre-tax. During the year, as medical expenses are paid out of the employee's pocket, they are able to send in the receipts and they are reimbursed those out of pocket expenses from their plan. I look at it as a medical savings account. The really nice thing is that if you have a big expense, you can still be reimbursed from your account - even if all the funds have not been collected yet.
There is, however, a drawback. If you don't use the funds by the end of the year ... you loose them.
The end of the year for my plan is actually January 31st.
At 6:30pm on January 31st, I had $73.00 left in my account.
Well ... obviously that won't do! But what to get? I've done the doctor co-pays, the antibiotic refills, the doctor hasn't written my new script for allergy meds so that one's out, I've got new glasses, ordered new contacts, seen the eye doctor ... what else is left? (Don't say dentist - we're not going there right now!)
You know ... I'll admit that sometimes, I don't always hear things. It's okay, I'll freely admit that ... but when I told my plan administrator my dilemma and she asked me if I had stocked my medicine cabinet yet, I went silent.
"What are you talking about?"
"Aspirin, over the counter meds, band-aids ... anything medical."
"Since when could we do this?"
"Since all year ... I told you last January when we resigned you up."
"No, you didn't."
"Yes, I did."--- Um ...I'll save you from a replay of this part. ---
"Yep. Anything medical - just not vitamins."
I head to my local pharmacy.
I pick up a basket.
Mega-mondo size of ibuprofen? Check!
OTC allergy stuff? Check!
Cough syrup? Check!
Cough drops? Check!
Well, that took care of $20. Let's head over to the band-aid aisle!
Do you know how inexpensive boxes of band-aids really are?? Do you know it's even more difficult when the whole blasted aisle is ON SALE! The one time I don't actually need it to be.
After 20 minutes of checking out the various brands and sizes and selections, I began to fill my basket ... adding in my head, working towards spending that remaining $53.00.
I have gauze pads and first aid tape. I have large band-aids, small band-aids, flexible band-aids for knuckles and fingertips. I have waterproof band-aids and clear band-aids. I have butterfly strips. I have first aid cream, a new tube of Neosporin, a new tube of Benedryl anti itch. I have sterile eye wash and sterile wipes.
I got everything I could think of and took it to the pharmacy counter. As the girl rang up my purchase (came to $74.26, I figured I could afford the $1.26), she kept looking at me kinda funny, but didn't say anything. Never one to stay completely silent, I told her that I was stocking up my cabinet and then jokingly said that I'd have to find a bigger cabinet to keep everything in. That's when she pointed to the bottom shelf of the aisle I'd been standing in for the last 20 minutes as I made my selections.
There, for all to find and see, are first-aid kits ... already put together!
But wait ... surely I have gotten a better assortment of products? Nope. Not really. Actually, the large kit that actually weighed in at a cost of $50 had more band-aid sizes than I did AND it had an ace bandage included. I didn't get an ace bandage.
But I've got a jumbo box of flexible knuckle band-aids.
For someone who frequently looses the skin on her knuckles to evil file cabinets, I think this works out just fine for me.