The University Record, October 23, 2000

Processing easier for Reimbursement Account participants

By Monica Finch
Human Resources/Affirmative Action

Participants will be able to take advantage of new convenience in claims processing in the University’s Health Care and Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts in 2001.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2001, SHPS, a company that specializes in processing and servicing claims, will handle claims processing for Health Care and Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts for 2001 expenses. The Benefits Office will continue to process claims in early 2001 for expenses attributable to 2000 accounts.

Since 1986, SHPS has administered flexible spending account claims. Its simplified claims submission process allows claims to be reimbursed faster and more frequently. The company offers online and phone access to account balances and other claims information that is updated daily.

SHPS also ensures a greater degree of privacy and confidentiality for participants concerned about personal health information. Other advantages for participants include:

  • Convenience. SHPS allows participants to fax or mail claims forms and receipts directly to the company for processing.

  • Timeliness. Claims will be paid daily. SHPS expects to pay claims within five business days after complete and correct claims forms and receipt(s) are received.

  • Easy Access. Participants can check their own accounts online at the SHPS Web site (www.shps.net) or by phone, (800) 678-6684.

  • Payment Options. Participants have the option of having their reimbursements paid by check mailed directly to them or by direct deposit to their bank accounts.

    About Reimbursement Accounts

    Reimbursement accounts, also known as flexible spending accounts, allow participants to pay health- and medical-related expenses, as well as child care and elder care expenses, with pre-tax dollars. This allows participants to reduce the amount of taxes they pay because their annual income is reduced by the amount they contribute to an account before taxes are calculated.

    Here’s how it works:

    Each year, participants calculate the amount they will contribute to their health care and/or dependent care reimbursement accounts. That figure should cover their annual expected eligible out-of-pocket health and/or dependent care expenses. In calculating this amount, anyone considering an elective procedure that is eligible for reimbursement from a Health Care Account will want to do some research to confirm that they are a candidate for the procedure. This is especially important if the procedure is costly. Contribution amounts will be deducted from their paychecks according to their pay schedules—over 24 pay periods if paid bi-weekly and over 12 pay periods if paid monthly. This amount also will be deducted from taxable earnings. In other words, the deduction is not taxed. However, contributions do not reduce salary amounts that are used to calculate other benefits, such as retirement plan contributions and insurance plans.

    Current faculty and staff can enroll in reimbursement accounts during Open Enrollment or during the Adjustment Period, and their accounts will be effective Jan. 1–Dec. 31, 2001. New hires and newly eligible employees can enroll as soon as they become eligible. Participants must re-enroll every year, even if they want the same contribution amount. Open Enrollment is Oct. 16–27, and the Adjustment Period is Nov. 6–22.

    At any time during the year, participants can file claims for amounts equal to their entire annual health care contributions from their account. To receive reimbursement from their Dependent Care Reimbursement Account, participants must have accumulated enough contributions to cover the claim.

    Currently, reimbursements are made in participants’ monthly or last bi-weekly paycheck of the month. This process will continue for 2000 expenses submitted in 2001. Reimbursements for 2001 expenses will be paid with a separate check to participants or by direct deposit to their bank account.

    Prospective participants must carefully and accurately predict their annual out-of-pocket expenses. Claims can be submitted only for services received during the year in which they are enrolled. Amounts contributed to the account(s) for which reimbursement claims are not made by the deadline will be forfeited.

    Participants may claim pre-tax reimbursement of 2001 expenses through May 31, 2002. There will be no after-tax reimbursement of claims for 2001 expenses. Funds remaining in the account as of June 1, 2002, will be forfeited.

    To obtain a 2001 Reimbursement Accounts plan book, send an e-mail message to benefits.books@umich.edu. Include in the message the name of the book being requested, the address where it should be mailed and a daytime phone number. The Benefits Office encourages use of Campus Mail to save postage costs. Books can be mailed to a home address, if requested.

    For worksheets to help you calculate your contribution to an account and other information about SHPS services, visit the Web at http://www.shps.net.