Healthcare Flexible Spending Account

A Healthcare Flexible Spending Account is an account that allows an employee to set aside a portion of their paycheck, pre-tax, to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care costs.

In 2021, employees may elect a minimum of $240 and up to a maximum of $2,750 for the current plan year or upon initial eligibility for eligible expenses incurred by the employee, spouse, or eligible dependent(s). Contributions may not be changed during the year.

Important Changes Related to the Flexible Spending Plan

As part of the latest COVID relief bill (the Consolidated Appropriations Act), there were several provisions introduced that impact Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plans. Brown University has adopted some of these exciting changes including the following:

  • Allowing a grace period extension
  • Allowing mid year changes to the Health Care FSA without a qualifying event.

Learn more.

Eligible Expenses

Examples of eligible health and/or dental care expenses are:

  • Coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles
  • Certain over-the-counter products
  • Dental, vision, and hearing expenses that aren't covered by the plan
  • Weight loss (i.e., obesity-related) and smoking cessation

Certain expenses specifically are not covered. A few examples are:

  • The cost of health or dental insurance premiums
  • Claims which are reimbursable under another policy
  • Medicare Part B premium costs
  • Medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery

For a complete list of eligible and ineligible expenses, please refer to the Sentinel FSA Eligible Expenses document on the right of this page.

Eligibility

Regular faculty and staff working 50% time or greater (based on academic year) are eligible to participate in the Healthcare Flexible Spending Account.

Coverage

A person generally qualifies as a dependent if:

  1. That person lives in the employee's home for the entire year as a member of the household (unless a full-time student under age 26) or is closely related to the employee; and
  2. That person is a U.S. citizen or resident, or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the calendar year in which the employee's tax year begins; and
  3. The employee provides more than half of the dependent's total support for the year

For additional information about dependents, including children of divorced or separated parents, review Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Service Code or consult with a tax advisor.

Covered expenses must be incurred during the plan year on or after the employee's date of eligibility. Under IRS regulations, expenses are incurred when the service is provided, not when the bill is paid.

If you enroll in Brown’s Consumer-Directed Health Plan administered by UnitedHealthcare, federal law prohibits you from receiving any reimbursement from amounts contributed in a previous year to a flexible spending account. You must spend your previous year's FSA contributions by the end of the year (December 31).

Reimbursement and Grace Period

All requests for reimbursement must be submitted to Sentinel Benefits, the plan administrator, within 30 days of the grace period extension date.  The deadline means if mailed, claims must be postmarked by that date. If faxed or emailed, claims must be received prior to midnight.

Sentinel Benefits
Fax: 781-213-7301

Submitting an Online Claim

To obtain more information, call Sentinel Benefits at 888-762-6088.

This summary is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal contract. In cases where disputes occur, the Plan Document will be the ruling and binding instrument.

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