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Flexible Benefits

(state and higher education employees)

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Use flexible spending accounts (FSA) to pay for healthcare and dependent care while saving money on your taxes. An FSA allows you to pay certain expenses from your pre-tax income rather than after-tax income. The maximum amount you can contribute to a FSA is set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The limits are subject to change yearly, and your employer may set a lower limit than the maximum allowed by the IRS.

Eligibility: Insurance-eligible state and higher education employees (excludes offline agencies) can enroll in the following FSAs. Part-time employees may not enroll in these benefits.

NEW – In 2021, Optum Bank will manage medical, limited purpose (L-FSA) and dependent care FSA (DC-FSA) programs. Benefits Administration manages transportation and parking flexible benefits (for state employees only).

Members with a 2020 medical FSA, L-FSA and DC-FSA should continue to use the PayFlex website through December 31, 2020: stateoftn.payflexdirect.com. Important 2020 FSA and L-FSA carryover information will be emailed to members and is below.

FSAs offered and 2021 contribution amounts:

Medical FSA:

Annual limit - $2,750 | Carryover limit - $500

  • Used to pay for certain medical, dental, vision and prescription costs not covered by your insurance. 
  • You do NOT qualify for a medical FSA if you are enrolled in the CDHP/HSA. Up to $500 of your unused FSA balance can be carried over into the next plan year instead of you “losing it.”
  • Your entire election (up to $2,750 in 2021) is available for use at the beginning of the year.

Limited Purpose FSA (L-FSA): 

Annual limit - $2,750 | Carryover limit - $500

  • May only be used to pay for certain dental and vision costs not covered by insurance. 
  • For employees enrolled in the CDHP/HSA, the L-FSA is a great way to save tax-free on eligible vision and dental expenses while continuing to grow your HSA balance.
  • Your entire election (up to $2,750 in 2021) is available for use at the beginning of the year.

Important! You cannot enroll in both a medical FSA and L-FSA in the same year. 

Debit Card: Medical FSA and L-FSA members get a debit card to use their funds at the pharmacy or provider’s office (not applicable to DC-FSA). Per IRS rules, Optum Bank may need you to verify some debit card purchases by providing your explanation of benefits (EOB)/claims document. Make sure to respond or your debit card may be suspended and any unsubstantiated claims may be reported to your employer for inclusion on your W2 or turned over to a collection agency. If your debit card is suspended, you will still have access to your flex funds but will need to file paper claims, fax them, or upload them on the Optum Bank website or app.

Dependent Care FSA (DC-FSA):

Annual limit - $5,000 (up to $2,500 per spouse for married couples filing jointly) | No carryover amount allowed

  • Used to pay for certain dependent-care costs, such as after school care, baby-sitting fees, adult or child daycare and preschool. Certain requirements must be met by the eligible employee and/or his or her spouse. For details, review the governing Plan Document located on the Publications page.

Availability of Funds: 

  • Employees who enroll in a medical FSA or L-FSA during annual enrollment will have their full election amount available to them upfront during the first week of January, or within approximately 3-4 weeks after they enroll. 
    • So, for example, with a medical FSA, if you contribute $500 per year, you’ll have access to those funds the first week of January or 3-4 weeks after you enroll. Then you’ll pay the funds back with money evenly deducted from your paychecks.
  • DC-FSA funds are only available as they are taken from your paycheck; your full election amount is not available up front. In addition, you may only file claims for dependent care for which you have a sufficient amount in your account to pay for them (i.e., you may not file claims for a future date).

Transportation and Parking: 

(state employees only)

Maximum contribution amount to the transportation FSA and/or the parking FSA is $265 per month.

  • Used to pay for certain work-related commuting and/or parking expenses.
  • Cannot be used for oil changes, car repairs, or similar vehicle servicing.

State employees who have a transportation/parking FSA must submit current year claims by April 30 of the following year. Claims submitted after that date will be denied. However, you will not lose your funds if you continue to be enrolled. You will only lose funds if you do not spend them or are no longer enrolled in a transportation/parking FSA. 

Click here for an HSA/FSA grid that shows details about contributions, tax benefits and how you can use your funds.

Enrollment:

State employees: To put money in a FSA, you must do so in Edison.

  • Medical, limited purpose or dependent care FSAs: You must choose how much money you’ll put in your FSA during annual enrollment (unless you have a special qualifying event) - enrollment does not continue from year-to-year. You will enter your annual contribution in Edison. The system will calculate the amount to take out of each check based on the number of paychecks you receive each year.
  • Transportation and parking (state employees only): You can enroll in Edison during annual enrollment. If currently enrolled, you do not have to reenroll. To make changes outside of annual enrollment, you would submit a paper form
  • Higher education employees: For new hires, to put money in a FSA, you will do this on Optum Bank's website (optumbank.com/Tennessee). For assistance, see your agency benefits coordinator (ABC).
  • State employees: If you are enrolled in a FSA, you should review your paystubs regularly to make sure you are correctly enrolled in the FSA you want, and that their correct amount is being taken from each paycheck. If you think your enrollment is incorrect (for example - you are enrolled in transportation/parking FSA, but meant to enroll in medical FSA), you have until March 30th of the current flexible benefits plan year to contact your agency benefits coordinator for research and resolution (or within 90 days of your flex benefits effective date - whichever comes first). You must provide documentation in writing to Benefits Administration upon request. After those 90 days, your enrollment is set for the year and you may not change or cancel your FSA enrollment unless you have a special qualifying event (SQE) as defined by IRS rules. The exception is transportation/parking FSAs and employees may change their contribution amount or cancel/start enrollment throughout the plan year.

CDHP enrollment

If you are enrolled in a CDHP/HSA, you and your enrolled spouse cannot use a flexible spending account (FSA) for medical expenses. You can have a limited purpose FSA (L-FSA) to use for dental and vision expenses. You should consider contributing the maximum allowed to your HSA before contributing to your limited purpose FSA (L-FSA) because HSA dollars are not "use-it-or-lose-it" like an FSA.

Optum Bank debit cards

  • Medical FSA and L-FSA members will get a debit card to use their funds at the pharmacy and provider's office, making it quick and easy to pay your deductible, copays and coinsurance.
  • For those who enroll during annual enrollment, Optum Bank will send all newly enrolled medical FSA and limited purpose FSA (L-FSA) participants a debit card in December. New hires/newly enrolled will receive your debit card within 3-4 weeks of enrollment. You may order additional debit cards for your dependents (cost may apply) by logging into your account at optumbank.com/Tennessee > Account Settings > PayFlex card > Order Dependent Debit Card.
  • You can use your debit card at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities to pay from your account.
  • If you enroll in the CDHP/HSA and a L-FSA, the same debit card will work for both accounts. Optum Bank will take any dental or vision expenses from your L-FSA “purse” on the debit card before using any of your HSA funds. This allows your HSA funds to continue to grow.
  • If you currently have a HSA with a debit card and plan to enroll in a L-FSA, you will use the same debit card for both your HSA and L-FSA eligible purchases.
  • Dependent care (DC-FSA) and transportation and parking FSA par­ticipants will not use a debit card.

You should keep all health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) when using the debit card to pay for eligible healthcare expenses. Optum Bank may contact you later and request them. Failure to respond to requests from Optum Bank to provide documentation for a debit card purchase may result in your card being deactivated and the expense reported to your employer for inclusion on your W2 as a taxable expense or being turned over to a collection agency.

Optum Bank accounts

For 2021, if you enrolled in a medical FSA or limited purpose (L-FSA), you should go online at optumbank.com/Tennessee to create an account and register your new debit card to pay many of your medical expenses that are not already covered by insurance. After you create your account, you can review your claims activity, upload documentation, provide claims substantiation (if requested), order an additional debit card and see your account balances. 

If you are enrolled in a dependent care FSA (DC-FSA) only, you cannot use a debit card, but you can create an online Optum Bank account in order to see your DC-FSA account balance, claims, and activity.

You can order an additional Optum Bank Card, your account debit card, once you log in at optumbank.com/Tennessee. New users will need to register first.

Reimbursements

Please click here for instructions on how to receive reimbursements for claims for your medical, limited purpose, dependent care and transportation and parking. 

Benefits Administration resources

Questions and answers
Quick facts

Important 2020 FSA and L-FSA Carryover Information

  • Your current 2020 PayFlex FSA debit card will be shut off on 12/31/2020. Any amount in your account greater than $500 will be forfeited.
  • After 12/31/20, any 2020 claims must be filed via a paper claim form or electronic claim with PayFlex no later than April 30, 2021. You may do so by logging on to the PayFlex member site: stateoftn.payflexdirect.com or by filing a paper claim (form is on the website). Claims for 2020 dates of service received by PayFlex after April 30, 2021 will be denied.
  • If you have a balance of less than $500 in your FSA or L-FSA on 12/31/2020 and you do not have any 2020 claims to file with PayFlex, this balance will not be carried over to Optum Bank until July 1, 2021.  This means you will likely not have your carryover balance available until July 1, 2021.
    • For this reason, we strongly encourage you to spend down your FSA or L-FSA balance to zero by the end of 2020. Otherwise, you will not have access to your $500 or less carry over amount until July.  
  • Current FSA and L-FSA participants who do not re-enroll for 2021 and who have a current balance of $500 or less will also not have access to their carryover balance until July 2021. After that time Optum Bank will open an FSA or L-FSA for your carryover funds.
    • For this reason, we strongly encourage you to spend down your FSA balance to zero by the end of 2020. Doing so means you do not have to wait on these funds.
  • The DC-FSA does not have a carry-over provision, so no funds will carry over but you must file any of your 2020 DC-FSA claims with PayFlex by April 30, 2021, or they will be denied and any balance will be forfeited.