UHR recommends flexible spending accounts to save money

The annual benefits open change periods for nonsupervisory merit and ISU Plan participants closes Nov. 18. In addition to reviewing and changing existing benefits, university human resources (UHR) recommends employees look over their flexible spending account (FSA) contributions. And if you don't participate in an FSA, you may sign up during the open change period.

What are flexible spending accounts?

A health care FSA helps pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses not covered, or only partially covered, by the university's medical, dental or vision insurance plans. UHR estimates enrollment in an FSA could save employees 25 to 40 percent on the cost of eligible expenses, such as prescriptions or approved over-the-counter purchases. A list of eligible expenses is available online.

The dependent care assistance program (DCAP) helps employees save money on child- or dependent-care expenses, including daycare, before- or after-school care and in-home care for older, disabled adults.

A third program is a health reimbursement account (HRA). This account only is available to faculty, professional and scientific, or supervisory merit employees who have excess ISU credits because they have elected the "no coverage" option instead of choosing medical, dental or basic life insurance coverage through Iowa State. Any excess credits not applied to medical, dental or basic life, if applicable, go into the HRA to be used similarly to the FSA. Employees also may choose to direct their excess credits toward their DCAP, instead of the HRA. 


An FSA and the DCAP help employees save money because contributions are deducted from paychecks pretax (before federal, state and social security taxes) in either 12 (for year-round employees) or 10 (for individuals with nine and 10-month appointments) equal amounts. ISU requires a minimum contribution of $20 per month.

The FSA or DCAP contribution amount employees elected for 2016 will carry over to 2017; no change is necessary for those who want to maintain those contribution levels. But if employees want to change the amount they are contributing to these accounts, they may do so during the open change period.

For 2017, employees may put up to $2,600 in the health care FSA, a $50 increase from 2016. The maximum amount allowed for the DCAP is $5,000 per year, per tax household.


Iowa State works with ASIFlex, a third-party administrator, to distribute employees' reimbursement requests. Here are a few things to remember about the process:

  • Reimbursement payments cannot begin until contributions are deducted from paychecks
  • The deadline for submitting reimbursements is April 30 of the year following the dates of service. For example, 2016 reimbursements must be submitted by April 30, 2017.

Employees have four options for filing reimbursements:

  • Online: Set up a user name and password online. Call ASIFLex at 800-659-3035 for assistance.
  • Mobile app: Download the free ASIFlex mobile app from the Google Play or Apple App stores, or scan the appropriate codes online
  • Fax: 877-879-9038
  • Mail: ASIFlex, P.O. Box 6044, Columbia, Missouri, 65205. Additional claim forms are available online.

Unused contributions

A combined total of up to $500 of unused FSA and HRA contributions automatically will carry over from one plan year to the next following the April 30 deadline. The carry-over amount will not reduce the election amount, but will be added to it. For example, if an employee set aside $400 in an FSA for 2016 and only claimed $200 in reimbursements, the remaining $200 will be carried over into 2017 and be added to the employee's contribution.

Claims rollover option

ISU employees enrolled in the university's FSA/HRA accounts and also its health, prescription or dental plans (with no additional supplementary insurance plans) may qualify for the claims rollover option. Here's how it works: Health claims, such as copayments, filed to the employee's medical, prescription and/or dental insurance automatically will be "rolled over" to ASIFlex, which processes the claim and initiates reimbursement. There's no need to submit reimbursement requests for the eligible deductible.

Qualified employees interested in participating in the claims rollover option must complete an authorization form.

How to enroll

Through Nov. 18, all Iowa State employees may enroll in an FSA and the DCAP program. To enroll, log into AccessPlus and select the Employee tab. Click "Benefits Info" in the left column and follow the appropriate links. Employees who qualify for an HRA automatically are enrolled by the university. However, they may choose to direct excess credits to their DCAP instead. Contact the UHR service center, 294-4800, with questions.