There may be a few months still remaining in 2013, but millions of US employees are making benefit choices for 2014 now, including how much of their salary to put into a healthcare flexible spending account.
MasterCard, the company at the heart of healthcare commerce, wants consumers to take control of their health and well-being this year by making informed decisions and to do that, below are some steps every US employee should follow.
Step 1: Keep healthcare deadlines in mind: Open enrollment, a period of time when individuals who are eligible to enroll in a qualified health plan can enroll in a plan in the marketplace, begins October 1, 2013 and ends March 31, 2014. Check with your employer to see if they have any specific deadlines with this time period.
Step 2: Keep your eye out for healthcare communications from your company: As soon as enrollment begins, companies will typically communicate to all eligible employees what options they have for their benefit program. To explain the details of these programs, many companies offer group presentations or benefit fairs to employees.
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Step 3: Decide if a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) is right for you: What are these and what is the difference? FSAs and HSAs are accounts where you contribute money from your salary BEFORE taxes are withheld that you use to pay for eligible out-of-pocket healthcare costs. While FSA funds must be used by year end, HSA funds roll over and accumulate year over year if not spent. HSAs are also portable, meaning you may take funds with you should you change employers or health plan, and are only available to those enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
Step 4: Determine your contribution amount: You can put up to $2,500 into an FSA each year. Since you must use that money within the plan year, it’s important to plan carefully and not set aside more than you think you'll spend on things like co-pays, prescriptions and other allowed healthcare costs. Individuals can contribute $3,250 to their HSA each year while families can contribute $6,450 each year.
Step 5: Make smart payment options throughout the year: Whether you underestimated your contribution amount, or decided an FSA or HSA was not right for you, make things easy by paying for healthcare expenses with a debit, credit or prepaid cards. You will you be able to track your expenditures for personal and tax purposes,
as well as reduce paperwork.
Step 6: Still confused? Talk to your Human Resource Representative:When companies and their employees work together, they often create a higher-quality healthcare experience. So talk to them about the different options out there, and what you’re looking for. MasterCard offers a variety of health and wellness solutions, including Health
Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), they might be interested in learning about.
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