About a month and a half ago, I called my Health Savings Account provider because my new HSA credit card was not being accepted when the receptionist at my optometrist's office tried to use it. After being transferred from one place to the next and on hold for about 25 minutes, I finally spoke to a representative. She informed me that my optometrist was not 'in the provider network' and that she would put in a request to add this provider. 5-7 business days was the estimated time for this to occur.
The money contributed to both FSAs (Flexible Spending Accounts) and HSAs are pre-tax dollars, but the money in the HSA can rollover to ensuing years and be retained for the life of the account. In the past several years, I have been able to estimate reasonably well how much to contribute annually to a FSA without having money leftover and forfeited at the end of the year. But based on the rollover benefit, I decided to give the HSA a try even though I knew that it would be new for this year and likely to have kinks in the process. I did not at all expect there to be a 'network' needed for a provider considering that it was simply my pre-tax dollars paying for services that fit under the federal guidelines for 'qualified medical expenses'.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I'm on the phone again to see if my optometrist has been added to the network. Nope, not yet, call back in a few weeks. So I call back in a few weeks, and it seems that there has been no response from the people that need to 'approve and add this provider to the network'. Frustrated, I ask that this request be expedited - my optometrist needs to be paid.
Today I called the HSA provider again. Apparently, there are two reasons why the card does not work. One is that my provider is not in the network, the other is that I have no money in my account. After a quick look into my account, my friendly representative informs me that for my case, both of these apply. So here I am thinking 'WTF'? I know that there was $ deducted from my paycheck for a savings account, and I received a card for my HSA... did my contribution get lost in the ether? After a conversation with the company that handles my work benefits, it turns out that I have a FSA instead of an HSA account. I signed up for the HSA and received a credit card for it, but my $ went into a FSA account...
Logically, one would think that having received a card for the HSA means that you have the account... but the past several months have taught me that interactions with healthcare administration are not always the most logimical... There doesn't seem to be clear communication between the company that handles my work benefits and the HSA provider. I'm not sure how the SNAFU happened, but the experience has soured me against using the HSA. I've wasted hours in the past couple of months dealing with this, and the receptionist at my optometrist's office is probably screening calls from me by now.
Note to self: Next year, go back to the FSA. Oh, and delete this post if I end up working in healthcare administration... ;)