Yes, you can update your 2020 flexible spending accounts

Due to COVID-19, changes can be made to health care and dependent care accounts without a life event

Piggybank with FSA written on it, next to a stethoscope


Due to COVID-19, flexible spending accounts have become even more flexible. Here's what you need to know about your health care and dependent care options. If your questions are not answered below, contact the university's Benefits Service Center at 410-516-2000 or

Midyear changes to your 2020 election

You are now allowed to stop, reduce, or increase your 2020 health care or dependent care FSA without a life event. All changes to your per-paycheck deductions will be going forward, and you cannot reduce your election by more than what you have been reimbursed for so far. If you end up contributing less than what you are reimbursed, you will be responsible for repaying the plan by the end of the year. To make midyear changes, click on myChoices Health & Life on the Benefits & Worklife webpage and then select "Start a Qualifying Event"—"Other Changes."

Newly eligible health care FSA expenses

The recently passed CARES act added a few new eligible expenses to the health care FSA. The most important change is that over-the-counter medications are now covered without a letter from your doctor. A full list of eligible expenses can be found here. You can use your Discovery Benefits debit card at a pharmacy or other store to purchase these items, and you will need to save your receipt or take a picture of it for substantiation.

Health care FSA substantiation

Substantiating your debit card purchases is an important part of being enrolled in the health care flexible spending account. Because your FSA must follow IRS rules, it is important that JHU adheres to the guidelines and collects backup documentation when necessary. If you are on its health plans, the university tries to eliminate when you need to do this as much as possible by sharing information from your health plan with Discovery Benefits. If you have to submit supporting documentation, Discovery Benefits makes the process easy.

When do I need to submit backup documentation? Certain debit card purchases require backup documentation to be submitted. Most purchases for approved items at the pharmacy or retail store and for claims processed under the university's health plans are auto-approved. You will receive an email from Discovery Benefits if you need to submit documentation for other items. Understandably, you may be delayed in submitting your documentation as certain dentists and medical offices have been closed.

What do I need to submit? Acceptable backup documentation includes an itemized invoice from the provider or your explanation of benefits, or EOB, from the insurance carrier. Any supporting documentation provided must include the following:

  • Name of patient
  • Name of provider or merchant
  • Date the service was received or the item purchased
  • Description of service received or item purchased
  • Dollar amount (after insurance, if applicable)

How do I submit my documentation? Log into your Discovery Benefits account to upload the requested documentation. To make it easy, you can save receipts as you incur expenses through your online account or the mobile app. To save a receipt for future submission, snap a picture on your phone, click on "Manage My Expenses," and then upload the photo to submit when requested.

What happens if I don't submit my documentation? If you don't submit documentation after you have been requested to do so, your debit card will eventually be turned off (about 200 days after the initial charge). As a reminder, this plan is a pretax benefit, and substantiation helps prevent misuse of your funds. At the end of the plan year, if you still have unsubstantiated purchases, this dollar amount will be added to your W2 and you will be taxed on that amount.

2019 Health care FSA claim filing extension and rollover

The filing deadline for your 2019 incurred claims has been extended until 60 days past the end of the national emergency (this date still unknown). Your remaining 2019 funds will soon be rolled over from WageWorks to Discovery Benefits to administer the remaining claim filing period. Once your balance is sent to Discovery Benefits, you will receive an email notification allowing you to submit any remaining 2019 claims.

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