You are still eligible even if your are not currently insured – Open Enrollment Season (November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015) so sign up!
According to a study [i], only 52 percent of moms are aware that due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), pregnant women can receive a breastpump with no co-pay via their insurance carriers. In addition, moms may not realize that they can use flexible spending and health savings accounts (FSA/HSA) to upgrade to their breast pump of choice if needed, as well as purchase breastfeeding accessories and supplies.
It is benefits open enrollment season and getting all of the facts now can help the decision-making process around FSA/HSA allocations. With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, this information can be timely for expecting and breastfeeding moms looking for ways to meaningfully spend those 2014 dollars.
Here are guidelines we hope will help your members as well as new and expecting moms.
What are FSAs and how can moms use them?
- Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow you to designate a portion of your paycheck to cover certain types of expenses, such as prescriptions or doctors’ visits. The money is deducted before taxes are taken out, which brings down your total taxable income.
- While the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover the cost of a breastpump, some pumps cost more than what the health plan will pay. In these cases, it may be necessary to cover the cost of an upgrade to get the pump you want.
- You can use FSA funds to pay for a pump upgrade or to get a second pump for use at work or while on the go. And, to purchase new parts, additional breastmilk storage bags or other breastfeeding supplies, you can use FSA funds for that as well.
- Whether for healthcare visits or breastfeeding supplies, here are a few tips to get the most from your FSA account:
- Plan for next year now. You can allocate up to $2,500 to your healthcare FSA each year. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consider allocating funds to your FSA so that you can get your breastfeeding supplies with pre-tax dollars.
- Know your timeline. You may be allowed a 2½-month “grace period” to use money from an FSA, after the calendar year ends — check with your employer.
- Check your balance. Don’t let any of your annual funds go to waste. Ask your employer if you are able to carry over unused funds, up to $500, to the next calendar year.
What are HSAs and how can they support breastfeeding?
- Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) cover qualified medical expenses.
- Breastfeeding supplies, including pumps, storage bags and other accessories can be purchased using funds in HSAs.
- Parameters vary so check with your employer before applying funds from an HSA.
- An HSA is similar to an FSA except that it is for people with a high deductible health plan and your money rolls over from year to year.
- An individual can allocate up to $3,350 pre-tax and a family can allocate up to $6,650 (for 2015).
(Source: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_2013_publink1000256742; http://www.towerswatson.com/en-US/Insights/Newsletters/Americas/insider/2014/irs-announces-2015-hsa-limits)
[i] According to a Proprietary Survey by a major pump company, 2014.