Tag: Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

What You Need to Know About Open Enrollment

Along with the return of school buses and shorter days, Fall is open enrollment time – the period in which you can sign up for, or adjust, your participation in your employee benefits package.

A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive and released as part of the Aflac WorkForces Report found that most workers regret their health benefit choices. The study reports that 77 percent of workers say they’ve made mistakes in their benefit decisions in the past, with 42 percent saying they waste money every year.

The most common mistakes include:

  • choosing the wrong deductible
  • not taking advantage of flexible spending accounts (FSAs)
  • passing on coverage — such as vision and dental care

What can you do to make the most of your benefits package?

  1. Visit the Consumer Reports Health website for information on how to choose a plan as well as what changes you should expect due to healthcare reform.
  2. If your employer offers an Flexible Spending Account, sign up for it. See below for more on FSAs.
  3. Make sure you put enough money in your FSA. According to the Aflac report, 43 percent of respondents said they didn’t contribute enough to the account.
  4. Visit the Sterling Resources page for links to companies we’ve partnered with in order to help you negotiate healthcare bills, find the best doctors and medical service providers, comparison shop for prescriptions, and more.
  5. Of course, the best resource during open enrollment is always your Human Resources department. They will have all the information that is specific to your particular benefit offerings.

About Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

FSAs enable you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified medical, dependent care, and commuter transportation expenses. Depending upon your tax-bracket, an FSA can save you up to 40% on items you already pay for out-of-pocket – such as co-pays for doctor visits, daycare tuition fees, and even gasoline for your “commuter highway vehicle” (better known as your car)!

Don’t forget that even if you’ve participated in an FSA in the past, you still have to re-enroll in these benefits each year, during open enrollment.

Sterling is led by experts in the health benefits and banking industries for one primary purpose – to put our customers in control of healthcare spending. Please contact us with any questions on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), Premium Only Plans (POPs), or COBRA.


“The Best Kept Financial Secret”

Good Money by ABC News recently hosted personal financial expert and author of Get Financially Naked Manisha Thakor. Called out as “one of the best kept financial secrets…”, Manisha discusses Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) in the video below (8:12).

Notably, she also states that of companies with 500 or more employees 85% offer FSAs, yet a surprising “80% of Americans who have access to FSAs don’t use them…because people don’t understand what they are.”

Are you one of the 80% of Americans missing out on “this gem that’s out there that people aren’t utilizing?”

Are you an employer who would not only like to help your valued employees keep more of their pay but also possibly help you to contain your benefit costs?

As part of Sterling Health Services Administration’s ongoing efforts to offer a product suite and create a  “one-stop”  so that brokers and employers can easily and conveniently get their health services administration needs met by one company, we are pleased to now offer Flexible Spending Accounts.

As we move into open enrollment in the fall, Sterling HSA can help you offer Flexible Spending Accounts as part of your benefit package.

Check out this video for more information on FSAs. Please contact us with any questions, and to get started with FSAs today.

ABC News Good Money Video on FSAs

Announcing Flexible Benefit Plans: Part Two

This post is Part Two of a three-part series on the topic of Sterling Health Services Administration‘s new Flexible Benefit Plans. Part Two focuses on advantages of Flexible Benefit Plans to employees and employers as well as why Sterling is a provider of choice. Part One, published August 9, 2010, introduces Flexible Benefit Plans. Part Three, to be published this week, addresses frequently asked questions regarding Flexible Benefit Plans.

Flexible Benefit Plans Advantages to Employees
Flexible Benefits Plans: Advantages for Employees

  • Using Flexible Benefit Plans–Healthcare FSAs, Dependent Care FSAs, and Transit/Parking benefits-employees can reduce their taxable income and use the income reduction to pay for qualified expenses that otherwise would have been paid with after tax dollars.
  • Tax savings to the employee include federal income tax, and in most jurisdictions, state and local income taxes. In addition, employees do not pay Social Security and Medicare tax (currently 7.65%) on the amount excluded from income.
  • Healthcare FSAs can be set up without a health insurance plan so more employees can participate.
  • Both employers and employees may contribute to the Healthcare FSA and Transit/Parking benefit. Only employees may contribute to the Dependent Care FSA. Employers cannot restrict the use of funds, even if they contribute. Use of funds is dictated by IRS code.

Flexible Benefit Plans Advantages to Employers

  • Benefit Savings: When salaries are reduced, the cost to the employer for benefits related to salaries may also decrease. The greatest savings to the employer is often the employer portion of Social Flexible Benefit Plans: Advantages for EmployersSecurity and Medicare, which currently equals 7.65% of each dollar of salary reduction (1.45% for those covered only by Medicare and not by Social Security).

Other salary-related benefits that may result in employer savings include the following:

  • Unemployment and workers compensation
  • Short and long term disability coverage
  • Life insurance
  • Pension – unless the pension statutes or ordinances are revised, the employer’s funding and the employee’s pension benefit in many plans will be based on the reduced salary.

Forfeitures: Employee forfeitures under the “use it or lose it” rule belong to the employer. Forfeitures can be returned to employees on a pro-rata basis, used to reduce employees’ future benefit costs, or applied to FSA administrative fees.

Why Sterling Health Services Administration?

  • Leaders: We’re a leading administrator of consumer directed healthcare services that put our clients in control of healthcare spending and in touch with resources to manage their money and their health.
  • Expertise & High Touch Service: We provide expert education and superior execution because we know theSterling Health Service Administration health insurance and financial industries. We provide high touch customer service online, on the phone and in person because we understand that our clients deserve it and want nothing less.
  • Compliance Specialists: We have the expertise to make sure benefits plans are fully compliant with industry and IRS regulations. Banks or other third party administrators operating under “unmanaged” models don’t do that. In short, we eliminate the worry by offering services only available from a company with expertise in health insurance and healthcare financing products.
  • One-stop Shop: Flexible Benefit Plans are part of our “one-stop” product suite so that brokers and employers can easily and conveniently get their health services administration needs met by one company – Sterling Health Services Administration.

Part One of this series was published August 9, 2010 and introduced Sterling Health Services Administration‘s new Flexible Benefit PlansPart Three, to be published this week, addresses frequently asked questions regarding Flexible Benefit Plans.