Open Enrollment: Save on health care, dependent care costs with FSAs, HSAs
University of Colorado faculty and staff must take one step during Open Enrollment: Re-enrolling in and setting contributions for Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts. All other plan enrollments will continue if no action is taken during Open Enrollment, which runs until 5 p.m. May 10.
CU offers three plans designed to provide tax advantages and savings to offset health care and dependent care costs: a Health Savings Account, a Health Care Flexible Spending Account and a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. Learn a little more about these accounts and how to use them.
What is a Flexible Spending Account?
CU offers two flexible spending accounts:
- A Health Care Flexible Spending Account allows an enrollee to set aside up to $2,700 for qualifying medical, dental and vision expenses for the plan year.
- A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows an enrollee to put aside up to $5,000 for qualifying child care or adult day care expenses.
This money in a flexible spending account is taken pretax, meaning an account holder will save an amount equal to what they would have been taxed. During Open Enrollment, an employee can choose how much is withdrawn from each paycheck and placed into their account. This money must be spent by the set deadlines or it will be lost.
See the Health Care Flexible Spending Account Fact Sheet and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Fact Sheet for details on using these plans.
What is a Health Savings Account?
A Health Savings Account is an individual savings account available only to faculty and staff covered by CU’s High Deductible health plan.
This account allows members to select a monthly amount or one-time lump sum to not only save pretax dollars from each paycheck but also invest them. Unlike the flexible spending account, health savings account dollars do not run out at the end of the year and can continually accrue interest over time. For this reason, many enrollees use it to save for health expenses in retirement.
Enrollees can spend this money on qualifying medical, dental and vision expenses.
To enroll in a Health Savings Account, employees must be enrolled in the CU Health Plan – High Deductible as the primary member. Unlike an FSA, members do not need to re-enroll in their Health Savings Account each year. Employees covered by CU’s High Deductible plan can enroll in, increase, decrease or stop contributing to their account at any time.
See the Health Savings Account Fact Sheet for details on using these plans.
Ways to save
With both types of accounts, enrollees can save money. Each dollar contributed to one of these accounts reduces your taxable salary for income tax purposes.
What can members use these accounts for?
Examples of Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts qualifying expenses
Acupuncture, adoption fees, counseling, contact lenses and solution, pregnancy tests, surgery (non-cosmetic), first aid kits, dental implants, breastfeeding classes, birth control and more. See all qualifying expenses.
Examples of Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts qualifying expenses
Day care, babysitters, preschool, before- or after-school programs, day camps (as long as the primary purpose is the care and well-being of the child, not for educational/instructional purposes) and more. See all eligible expenses on the dependent tab of this page.
Examples of Health Savings Account qualifying expenses
Physical examinations, weight-loss programs (don’t forget CU offers some great programs at no cost to employees), crutches, dental treatment, eyeglasses, pregnancy test kits, breast pumps and supplies, sterilization and more. See the full list.
To see a comprehensive breakdown of the differences between these accounts, check out the HSA v FSA comparison chart. Please note: You cannot contribute to both a Health Care flexible spending account and a health savings account at the same time.
Act by May 10
Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts require re-enrollment every year during Open Enrollment. For the 2019-20 plan year, Open Enrollment ends at 5 p.m. May 10. Visit CU’s Open Enrollment website for more information.