Medical Reimbursement Account – contact lenses

I wear contact lenses that last for 30 days.  I put the cost of these through my medical reimbursement account.  I’m in the last month of the plan year, and have run out of money in my account.  I put off re-ordering my next box of lenses so that it would happen in the next plan year.  I have to pay for the lenses when I order them, even though they will not arrive for a week or so.  So I’ll have to pay in this month (the last month of the plan year), and get the lenses next week (the first month of the next plan year).  Will my reimbursement account pay for this, since I’m receiving the lenses in the new plan year but paid for them in the previous year?

Trying to See Straight

Dear Trying to See Straight,

Yes, you should be all set if you give them a receipt showing the date of delivery and the cost (already paid in full) for the lenses.  Let me explain why: Medical reimbursement accounts pay for services “incurred” during the plan year.  Incurred means that the service – in this case your lenses – happens during the plan year.  It does not matter when you pay for the service.

In fact, you can submit bills to your medical reimbursement account that you have not paid.  It’s called “reimbursement account” because it pays you, and not the health care provider.  The account administrator is only concerned with whether the service happens and you owe something for the cost.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.