Manage your pre-tax accounts wisely – here’s how

COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and unemployment rates rise, you’re probably looking to maximize every dollar that you currently have. Fortunately, you can do so through smart use of your pre-tax accounts.

Step 1: Review your elections

The first step is just reviewing your current elections. For the following account types, this might mean making a change:

  • Commuter benefits: Commuter benefits are a monthly benefit and can be changed at any time. Funds will automatically roll from month to month and be available for future use. Alternatively, you may decide to temporarily pause your current elections. Pausing an election will allow you to quickly step back into the benefit when your commuting needs resume.
  • Health Savings Accounts: You can make changes at any time to your HSA. Because of COVID-19, the tax filing and HSA contribution deadlines were pushed out. If you haven’t filed yet, you can increase your contribution to get a larger tax return. However, please note that some employers restrict how often election changes can occur.
  • Dependent Care FSA: With schools out, some parents are paying for childcare that were not previously anticipating these expenses. On the reverse, other parents find themselves at home with kids. In both of these cases, you have the option of changing an election based on the existing rules which allow for an election change based on a change in the cost of care.

Unfortunately when it comes to a Medical FSA, a qualified event is required to change your election. Unless there is relief provided, the COVID-19 pandemic is not considered a qualifying event. However, you can still make the most of these funds.

Step 2: Understand what is eligible

By understanding what is eligible, you can gain access to funds for more things. Notably, the CARES Act just allowed health accounts to be used for OTC Drugs and Medicines without a prescription. In addition, the CARES Act added menstrual care products to the list of eligible items for reimbursement from health accounts.

Initially, you will need to submit claims to pay for these expenses. Merchants will need time to update their systems to identify these additional expenses so that you can use your benefits card directly.

Finally, the CARES Act includes a temporary provision to allow telehealth services to be covered with little to no cost sharing and still remain eligible for HSA contributions. This is a temporary program until 12/31/2021.

Check out our Q&A video on the CARES Act.

Step 3: Submit claims online or through the mobile app

When you need to submit a claim, we recommend submitting them online through BRiWeb or through our mobile app BRiMobile. During this pandemic, there are some processing delays for faxed and mailed claims due to our temporary shift to a more remote work environment.

Check out our Claims Walk Through for guidance on doing so.

Step 4: Sign up for direct deposit

Employees can further accelerate access to funds by signing up for direct deposit. It is quick and provides reimbursement payments 2-3 days sooner.

Check out our FAQ for how to set up direct deposit.

Step 5: Check your account status online

Lastly, you can check their account status online through BRiWeb or through the BRiMobile app. Doing so provides convenient access to account information, balances and more.

If you don’t already have a login, check out our guide on registering for a login on BRiWeb.