This past year, I experimented for the first time with a Healthcare Flex Spending Account. The plan we use comes with a debit card, which makes it nice if you're paying for something like a doctor visit copay, because there's no receipts to save or claim to file. You can also use the debit card for things like medicine, in which case a claim is filed automatically but you do have to send in receipts as documentation.
After working through a few kinks in the beginning, it's all turned out very well. The only downside was that I had planned to have surgery this year and then decided against it. Which means the money I had set aside in my flex account for that didn't get used. And if you don't use it, you lose it. When I first realized I wasn't going to use it, I figured I could appy it towards orthodontia for Middle Daughter instead. That backup plan went awry when her baby teeth stubbornly refused to wiggle even the tiniest bit, causing the orthodontist to postpone any thought of braces for another year.
So, faced with about $370 left in my account and armed with my flex account debit card, I made a trip to the drugstore and stocked up on every OTC medicine I could think of. I bought Tylenol, Aleve, and Advil. I bought Benedryl. I bought cough medicine. I bought children's Motrin, children's cold medicine, and children's Motrin cold formula. I bought hydrocortizone cream, Neosporin, and Benedryl cream. I bought band-aids (even sprung for the spiderman and scooby doo kind) and gauze and surgical tape. I bought Bactine and Sting-Away. I bought these cool little dissolving strips of Triaminic for Middle Daughter, who can't swallow pills and doesn't like liquids. I bought Pepcid AC, Pepto-Bismol, and Immodium.
I managed to rack up nearly $190 worth of stuff, and paid for it with my debit card. Then, in an effort to be proactive, and knowing I needed to fax over the receipts for backup, I went back to my desk and filed a claim.
DOH!! I didn't snap until I got the e-mail saying my claim had been reviewed, and then went to the website to see if it had been approved. There was no little debit card icon next to my claim showing I had used my card. Because I had filed the claim myself instead of waiting for the debit card transaction to go through and auto-generate a claim number. Which meant that once the debit card transaction hit, it would file a new claim, but it would get denied as a duplicate.
I called the helpline and the very nice lady sorted it all out for me without telling me what a total idiot I was. I'm trying to make myself feel better by telling myself she probably gets a dozen calls just like me every day, but I still have visions of her sitting in the lunchroom telling her co-workers, "You'll never believe the call I got today."
In the meantime, I have exactly today to figure out how to spend another $170. Any ideas?