A Message from Tom Keller, Director of Total Rewards
During the past year, Trisha Whitmire, assistant director, equal opportunity, has started saving for her future medical expenses by electing the UnitedHealthcare (UHC) Choice Plus HSA Silver plan in last year’s open enrollment for benefits.
HSA stands for health savings account, which is a tax-free bank account that offers you an opportunity to build savings for current and future health expenses. You receive a $1,000 contribution from Valencia College for employee-only coverage or $2,000 for family coverage to your HSA that you can use to pay for qualified medical expenses, such as deductibles, prescriptions, eyeglasses and even many expenses that aren’t covered under Valencia’s UHC medical plans, such as LASIK and fertility enhancements.
And, if you don’t spend that money, you get to keep it in your account and even earn interest. You can even use the funds for medical expenses incurred by your spouse and/or eligible dependents – even if they are not on Valencia’s HSA plan with you. Additionally, If you decide to leave Valencia, change medical plans, move or retire, the money in your HSA is yours to keep. After age 65, you can use that money in any way you choose, not just for medical expenses, without a penalty.
With this plan, if you have some medical expenses in 2021, you can still use UnitedHealthcare’s network of doctors and its negotiated rates for care, an important detail that was a selling point for Trisha.
“I decided to switch to the HSA because I realized I was not using my health insurance very often and learned that I could receive $1,000 from the College to save for future medical expenses,” Trisha shared. “I also really liked the idea of starting to save money for future medical expenses and appreciated that the College would contribute to that. This plan is helping me to start saving some each year, especially since I have not needed to spend much out of the account. I never imagined that my job would put money into a savings account to use for medical expenses when I need it.”
Trisha also shared that she’s been able to use her funds for medical expenses that were her responsibility as part of the plan’s deductible. For example, she used it to cover the cost of a $300 medical test without paying anything out of pocket.
“I realized that with the funds in the account, even if I had higher upfront costs for any medical treatments I may need, I would have that money to use and wouldn’t be out of pocket for any expenses unless they exceeded that amount,” she said.
She appreciates that using her HSA funds is also simple.
“They give you a card to use to pay for expenses,” Trisha explained. “When I had a medical expense, I was able to use the card to pay them directly and no money came out of my pocket.”
Trisha highly recommends this plan to those who are at lower risk for medical issues and expenses.
“This plan works well for someone like me who is relatively young(ish) with no significant underlying health conditions,” she said. “I would absolutely recommend it for someone who does not currently have many medical expenses.”
Like any healthcare option, HSAs have advantages and disadvantages. Think about the health care you and your family will likely need in the upcoming year and your budget to determine what’s best for you. If this sounds like the plan for you, elect it during open enrollment for 2021 benefits, which will be held for full-time employees Monday, October 19 through Friday, October 30, 2020. To learn about all of the plans and ask questions, please attend one of the Benefits Tour sessions, which will be offered Monday, October 5 through Friday, October 16, 2020. For Benefits Tour details, click here.