REALITY?: Flex-Spending Scam

The insurance business is about one rung below on the ladder, right under the legal profession, in my book lately.

Obviously I’m very grateful to have the coverage–though we do pay a portion of the health insurance and all, of course, of the property insurance (which is another nightmare business in itself)–but we have to jump through hoops to get what’s due.

The objective of flex-spending is that you put your own money into a special account that’s considered pre-tax, so that in effect you’re saving that percentage (based on your filing tax base) on that amount of dollars.  You can use a MasterCharge card they issue to pay for doctor visits, hospital and lab needs, and pharmacy purchases.  At the time you present the card for payment, it is accepted or denied at the time (for example, you can use it for items such as aspirin, but not cereal).

Then, of course, they often require receipts in addition as evidence.  This was the case with a hospital lab invoice I paid, wherein I gave the MC account number via mail on a $36.75 charge.  I received a receipt from the hospital, and when requested by the Flex-Spending folk, copied and sent this in.  Now they want additional proof–despite the fact that the receipt is clearly marked from "Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Laboratory."  Let’s see, two stamps and two copies add up to $1.12, or 3% of the charge already.  I’d have to figure our tax bracket to see what I’m actually saving on this.

I understand the "use it or lose it" rule on flex-spending, and so last year went for an eye exam and new glasses which would be covered under their policy, since we still had $575 of OUR money in there to spend.  They accepted the $315 for the eyeglasses, but rejected a $185 charge for the exam, even though the invoice I sent in as additional backup proof was clearly from a doctor’s office.  Bottom line: they ended up with a profit of $260 on our account.  Couldn’t argue with them–the time deadline fell into place.

You know, if I had any faith in the legal system I would challenge the whole idea of flex-spending as an illegal near-scam.  I just don’t feel that, despite their rules which you can follow if you have loads of time and stamps, the idea of a company (and it is a separate, for-profit company running this) refusing to pay for proper health care billings and keeping your money can’t be a legitimate dealing that would hold up in court.

Only it’d take a lot more money on lawyers to see this through.  I’d rather just pay the government its tax dollars; at least that’s a legitimate cost.

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