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Asked and Answered: What does "double dipping" mean with an FSA?

Accounts

If you're new to flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and been through some training about these accounts, you've probably heard about "double dipping." And if you've read the fine print on any claim you've submitted, you may have already stated you won't do this. But what if you're not 100% sure about what constitutes a "double dip?"

In everyday terms, double dipping is the act of being reimbursed for the same expense twice, which can happen a lot of ways with your FSA. And it's also considered unethical, especially in the eyes of your employer.

By claiming FSA reimbursement, you're unable to seek payment for things already paid for pre-tax, or things you intend to pay with another tax-free health account. This can happen without even knowing it (more on that in a bit).

If double dipping is noticed by your FSA administrator, they'll ask you to pay your FSA back. If you don't, they may withhold future claims from payment or even shut off your card. What's worse, if it goes unnoticed by your FSA administrator, you're risking the compliance of your FSA for the entire company, as proper use of the plan is a requirement to maintain tax-free status.

It's an awful thought - so let's discuss the ways double dipping can happen and how you can avoid it.

Double expensing

One common form of double dipping is by paying for an FSA-eligible expense with your FSA card, and then submitting the same expense for reimbursement. Most benefits administrators can catch these mistakes pretty quickly. But if a claim does go through and you get reimbursed twice for the same expense, you'll have to pay it back to your administrator if they become aware of the issue.

Claiming through separate accounts

Let's say you and your spouse each have FSAs through your respective employers. If you pay for a copayment or FSA-eligible product and submit a claim for that expense under both accounts, this is another clear example of double dipping.

Get ahead of this -- keep your claims separate for each account to avoid problems down the line.

Double dipping can be an honest mistake, but if you make a real effort to double your reimbursements for qualifying healthcare expenses there can be big consequences. To avoid this, use your FSA card whenever possible, and keep your receipts organized to avoid any issues down the line.

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From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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