I have had a Health Savings Account through my employer for almost 10 years. They allow you to set aside money, pre-tax that is specifically marked for healthcare. In the years when I was uninsured, I had AFLAC plans for accidents and serious illness and a HSA.
In the last 10 years the rules have changed for HSAs. With a health savings account, all of the money set aside has to be used within a calendar year. In 2011, I lost about $30 to not claiming within the year.
In the last 2-3 years, the amount you could set aside has been lowered and lowered. In 2011, my HSA had $4,300. In 2012, the limit was $3,000. In the last two years, the limit has been $2,500. Of course, my husband has one through his employer as well, so we have each been able to set aside $2,500 for the last 2 years. Also, the rules about what you can spend on and what documentation you have to have has become more and more strict. This is because Congress thinks that these accounts are being used by rich people to hide taxable income. I am not hiding money; I am setting it aside because my daughter and I have minor, but chronic issues, my husband is diabetic, and my son is autistic and we take him to a specialist who isn't on any insurance provider networks. Most years, my HSA is empty by June and my husband's HSA account peters out around November. Until this year, my insurance reset in January and his reset in July. Because of the new rules, his employer had to have 6 month plans last year and now they reset in January as well. I can say, without a doubt, that we spend over $5000 a year on healthcare. I don't even use the accounts for most of our prescriptions.
I spent about an hour yesterday searching for receipts and uploading them. Evidently there were charges on both cards that were flagged. My husband never told me about the ones on his card. He should be getting emails about it. I knew about the ones on my card, but I'm kind of lazy about it and kept forgetting to go scan receipts at work. I found out that both our accounts now have apps where we can just take pictures of the receipts, so that's a little more convenient.
My daughter has a appointment on Monday to get her teeth checked out before getting braces. She really needs them. In elementary school she had an appliance to spread her top palette because it was so narrow. Now we have to have one tooth pulled and the rest can be pulled into alignment. We are prepared. This year, we got dental through both our employers that are working together. I have the money for the down payment on my HSA and then it will be about $100 a month for the next year. We can swing that, if the HSA will turn on before the appointment. I did get emails that 9 of the receipts were approved, more than the denied amount that was sitting on my card, but the card hasn't been reactivated yet.
My husband's account only had 2 rejected charges. It shows everything from yesterday as processing.
This is just such a pain in the ass, made more difficult by bureaucracy. I wouldn't be as frustrated if I could put more in the account.
Edit: Oops, I have a Flexible Spending Account not a Health Spending Account. I am unclear on the difference, but I think the FSA is pre tax and the HSA may be deducted after taxes are taken out.