2017 Reminder to Submit Health Care Spending Account Claims for Plan 160597

 

This year’s annual Health Care Spending allocation will be deposited on June 1, 2017. All full time faculty union members will receive a deposit of $450 into their Health Care Spending Account (HCSA). (If two members are married to each other, and one has a family plan, and the other is listed as a dependent, both have a Health Care Spending Account and both will receive a deposit of $450 into their accounts. If a faculty member is not in either the family or single health and dental plan, the member still has a Health Care Spending Account and will receive a deposit of $450 into his/her account.)

 

The HCSA offers relief from health care expenses, which are outside of the insured health and dental benefits.

The HCSA can be used for:

 

  • Services not fully covered under your benefit plan

 

  • Any expenses that qualify as a medical expenses tax credit under the Income Tax Act.

 

  • Nova Scotia Pharmacare premiums

 

You only have one HCSA and the maximum is $450 even if you are in the family plan, but you can claim dependents’ expenses against it. 

 

Points you need to remember about when HCSA funds are deposited, accumulate in your HCSA and for how long this money is accessible, that is, when you must claim expenses lest you forfeit this money because you waited too long to make a claim:

 

  • The policy year for this HCSA is from June 1 to May 31.

 

  • Expenses incurred between June 1, 2016to May 31, 2017 that are to be paid from the June 2016 HCSA must be received by Great-West Life before July 31, 2017. Submissions of claims for expenses incurred in the year June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017 that are received by Great-West Life after this deadline will not be reimbursed. I encourage you to send your claims and receipts at least two weeks before this deadline to make certain that Great-West Life will have received them before the deadline.

 

  • Some of you might have funds in your HCSA from the previous year, funds that were deposited on June 1, 2015 (for the year June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016). These funds can still be usedbut only for expenses incurred in the year June 1,2016 to May 31, 2017. In short, you can “carry over” money from that previous year, the year of June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016 to this year, the year starting June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017. You can use that “old” money for expenses incurred in the year June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017, but not expenses incurred in the prior year, or the year June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016.

 

  • Again, money from a previous year can be carried forward for a maximum of one year, but expenses incurred in year bookended June 1 to May 31 must be claimed in that very time period.

 

  • Any claim you make will be made against the money in your HCSA fund that was deposited first or earliest, for example, if you have $900 in your account because you did not make a claim in the prior year, and you haven’t yet made a claim in the current year, and then you make a claim of $300, that claim will be made against the $450 from the prior year. Prior year money will be exhausted before current-year money is used to pay your claim.

 

  • Still, if you wait more than 24 months to make a claim, you will have lost money that was in put into your account more than two years ago. Just to be clear, if $450 was put into your fund on June 1, 2015 andyou did not make a claim of it in that year (June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016), and on June 1, 2016 an additional $450 was deposited into your account, and you made no claim against it, and you had a total of $900 in your account on May 31, 2017, and on June 1, 2017, $450 is put into your account, you will find that you have $900 in your account on June 2, 2017, not $1,350 because you would have forfeited the funds put into your account on June 1, 2015. (Personally I would have been happy for money to accumulate in your fund with no time limit, but the Canada Revenue Agency imposes a limit of 24 months of access to those funds. I suggest that if you have a receipt you want to claim against your HCSA, make the claim soon.)

 

Please employ the following steps to determine what you have left in your HCSA, the 160597 plan, and how to make a claim.

 

  1. If registered with Great-West Life GroupNet, go online and click on “Benefits Overview Health Care Spending Account”, you should see what funds are available. If you cannot find this information, call Great-West Life at 1-877-883-7072, give them the plan number which is 160597, and your id number and they will provide that information. The Canadian Benefits Consulting Group cannot access this information directly.

 

  1. You can make a claim against the funds in your Health Care account electronically, if you are registered with Great-West Life GroupNet. If you make your claim in this way, As Great-West Life might ask for those receipts, keep your receipts for at least one year. In the alternative, you can complete the paper form on the Faculty Union Website. Check the box indicating that you want to use your HCSA funds.

 

List of eligible medical expenses you can claim against your HCSA (160597). These expenses are shown as acceptable according the Canada Revenue Agency. This List is subject to any changes that are made to the list of items qualifying as medical expenses under the Income Tax Act (Canada).

Acoustic coupler – prescription required.

Air conditioner – $1,000 or 50% of the amount paid for the air conditioner, whichever is less, for a person with a severe chronic ailment, disease, or disorder – prescription required.

Air filter, cleaner, or purifier – the amount paid for a person to cope with or overcome a severe chronic respiratory ailment or a severe chronic immune system disorder – prescription required.

Altered auditory feedback devices for treating a speech disorder – prescription required.

Ambulance service to or from a public or licensed private hospital.

Animals – the cost of a specially trained animal to help a person who:

  • is blind;
  • is profoundly deaf;
  • has a severe and prolonged physical impairment that markedly restricts the use of his or her arms or legs;
  • is severely affected by autism or epilepsy; or
  • has severe diabetes.

In addition to the cost of the animal, the care and maintenance (including food and veterinarian care) are eligible expenses.

Reasonable travel expenses for the person to attend a school, institution, or other place that trains him or her in the handling such an animal (including reasonable board and lodging for full-time attendance at the school) are eligible expenses. The training of such animals has to be one of the main purposes of the person or organization that provides the animal.

Artificial eye or limb

Assisted breathing devices that supply air to the lungs under pressure, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or mechanical ventilator.

Attendant care expenses

Audible signal devices including large bells, loud ringing bells, single stroke bells, vibrating bells, horns, and visible signals – prescription required.

Baby breathing monitor – designed to be attached to an infant to sound an alarm if the infant stops breathing. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that the infant is at risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Bathroom aids to help a person get in or out of a bathtub or shower or to get on or off a toilet – prescription required.

Bliss symbol boards or similar devices used by a person who has a speech impairment to help the person communicate by selecting the symbols or spelling out words – prescription required.

Blood coagulation monitors – the amount paid for the purchase including disposable peripherals such as pricking devices, lancets and test strips for a person who requires anti-coagulation therapy – prescription required.

Bone conduction receiver

Bone marrow transplant – reasonable amounts paid to locate a compatible donor, to arrange the transplant including legal fees and insurance premiums, and reasonable travelling costs including board and lodging for the patient, the donor, and their respective attendants.

Braces for a limb including woven or elasticized stockings made to measure. Boots or shoes that have braces built into them to enable a person to walk are also eligible.

Braille note-taker devices used by a person who is blind to allow that person to take notes (that can be read back to them, printed, or displayed in braille) with the help of a keyboard – prescription required.

Braille printers, synthetic speech systems, large print-on-screen devices, and other devices designed exclusively to be used by a person who is blind to operate a computer – prescription required.

Breast prosthesis because of a mastectomy – prescription required.

Cancer treatment in or outside Canada, provided by a medical practitioner or a public or licensed private hospital.

Catheters, catheter trays, tubing, or other products required for incontinence caused by illness, injury, or affliction.

Certificates – the amount paid to a medical practitioner for completing and providing additional information for Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate, and other certificates.

Chair – power-operated guided chair to be used in a stairway, including installation – prescription required.

Cochlear implant

Computer peripherals designed exclusively to be used by a person who is blind to operate a computer – prescription required.

Cosmetic surgery – generally, expenses for cosmetic procedures are eligible only if incurred before March 5, 2010, and paid to a medical practitioner or a public or licensed private hospital.

An expense will continue to qualify as a medical expense if it is necessary for medical or reconstructive purposes, such as surgery to address a deformity related to a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.

Crutches

Deaf-blind intervening services used by a person who is both blind and profoundly deaf when paid to someone in the business of providing these services.

Dental services paid to a medical practitioner or a dentist. Expenses for purely cosmetic procedures are not eligible.

Dentures and dental implant 

Devices or software designed to be used by a person who is blind or has a severe learning disability to enable him or her to read print – prescription required.

Diapers or disposable briefs for a person who is incontinent because of an illness, injury, or affliction.

Doctor

Driveway access – reasonable amounts paid to alter the driveway of the principal place of residence of a person who has a severe and prolonged mobility impairment, to facilitate access to a bus.

Drugs and medical devices bought under Health Canada’s Special Access Program – the amounts paid for drugs and medical devices that have not been approved for use in Canada, if they were purchased under this program. For more information, visit Health Canada.

Elastic support hose designed exclusively to relieve swelling caused by chronic lymphedema – prescription required.

Electrolysis – only amounts paid to a qualified medical practitioner. Expenses for purely cosmetic procedures are not eligible.

Electronic bone healing device – prescription required.

Electronic speech synthesizers that enable a person who is unable to speak to communicate using a portable keyboard – prescription required.

Electrotherapy devices for the treatment of a medical condition or a severe mobility impairment – prescription required.

Environmental control system (computerized or electronic) including the basic computer system used by a person with a severe and prolonged mobility impairment – prescription required.

Extremity pump for a person diagnosed with chronic lymphedema – prescription required.

Furnace – the amount paid for an electric or sealed combustion furnace acquired to replace a furnace that is neither of these, where the replacement is necessary because of a person’s severe chronic respiratory ailment or immune system disorder – prescription required.

Hearing aids or personal assistive listening devices including repairs and batteries.

Heart monitoring devices including repairs and batteries – prescription required.

Hospital bed including attachments – prescription required.

Hospitals services – public or private, that are licensed as hospitals by the province, territory or jurisdiction where they are located in.

Ileostomy and colostomy pads including pouches and adhesives.

Infusion pump including disposable peripherals used in treating diabetes, or a device designed to enable a person with diabetes to measure blood sugar levels – prescription required.

Insulin or substitutes – prescription required.

In vitrofertility program – the amount paid to a medical practitioner or a public or licensed private hospital, not including donations to a sperm bank.

Kidney machine – the cost of the machine and the following related costs:

  • repairs, maintenance, and supplies;
  • additions, renovations, or alterations to a home (the hospital official who installed the machine must certify in writing that they were necessary for installation);
  • the part of the operating costs of the home that relate to the machine (excluding mortgage interest and capital cost allowance);
  • a telephone extension in the dialysis room and all long distance calls to a hospital for advice or to obtain repairs; and
  • necessary and unavoidable costs to transport supplies.

Laboratory procedures or services including necessary interpretations – prescription required.

Large print-on-screen devices designed exclusively to be used by a person who is blind to operate a computer – prescription required.

Laryngeal speaking aids

Laser eye surgery – the amount paid to a medical practitioner or a public or licensed private hospital.

Lift or transportation equipment (power-operated) designed exclusively for use by a person with an impairment to allow him or her to access different areas of a building, enter or leave a vehicle, or place a wheelchair on or in a vehicle.

Liver extract injections for a person with pernicious anaemia – prescription required.

Medical marijuana or marijuana seeds – the amount paid to Health Canada or a designated producer for a person authorized to possess or use the drug for medical purposes under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations or exempt under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Medical services provided by qualified medical practitioners

Medical services provided outside of Canada – if you travel outside Canada to get medical services, you can claim the amounts you paid to a medical practitioner and a public or licensed private hospital. A “medical practitioner” is an individual (such as a doctor or a nurse) who is authorized to practice according to the laws of the jurisdiction that the services are provided in. A “licensed private hospital” is a hospital licensed by the jurisdiction that it operates in.

Moving expenses – reasonable moving expenses (that have not been claimed as moving expenses on anyone’s income tax and benefit return) to move a person who has a severe and prolonged mobility impairment, or who lacks normal physical development, to housing that is more accessible to the person or in which the person is more mobile or functional, to a limit of $2,000 (for residents of Ontario, the provincial limit is $2,674).

Needles and syringes – prescription required.

Note-taking services used by a person with an impairment in physical or mental functions and paid to someone in the business of providing these services. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that these services are necessary.

Nurse – For more information, see Income Tax Folio S1-F1-C1, Medical Expense Tax Credit.

Nursing home

Optical scanners or similar devices designed for use by a person who is blind to enable him or her to read print – prescription required.

Organ transplant – reasonable amounts paid to locate a compatible donor, to arrange the transplant including legal fees and insurance premiums, and reasonable travelling costs including board and lodging for the patient, the donor, and their respective attendants.

Orthodontic work including braces paid to a medical practitioner or a dentist. Expenses for purely cosmetic procedures are not eligible.

Orthopaedic shoes, boots, and inserts – prescription required.

Osteogenesis stimulator (inductive coupling) for treating non-union of fractures or aiding in bone fusion – prescription required.

Oxygen concentrator – amounts paid to purchase, operate and maintain an oxygen concentrator including electricity.

Oxygen and oxygen tent or other equipment necessary to administer oxygen – prescription required.

Pacemakers – prescription required.

Page-turner devices to help a person turn the pages of a book or other bound document when he or she has a severe and prolonged impairment that markedly restricts the person’s ability to use his or her arms or hands – prescription required.

Personalized therapy plan – the salaries and wages incurred after 2013 for designing a personalized therapy plan are eligible medical expenses if certain conditions are met.

The plan has to be designed for a person who is eligible for the disability tax credit and the payment is made to someone who is in the business of providing such services to unrelated persons.

The therapy has to be prescribed and supervised:

  • for a mental impairment, by a medical doctor or a psychologist; or
  • for a physical impairment, by a medical doctor or an occupational therapist.

The plan has to be:

  • needed to access public funding for specialized therapy;
  • for a mental impairment, prescribed by a medical doctor or a psychologist; or
  • for a physical impairment, prescribed by a medical doctor or an occupational therapist.

Phototherapy equipment for treating psoriasis or other skin disorders. You can claim the amount paid to buy, operate, and maintain this equipment.

Premiums paid to private health services plans including medical, dental, and hospitalization plans.

Pre-natal and post-natal treatments paid to a medical practitioner or a public or licensed private hospital.

Prescription drugs and medications that can lawfully be acquired for use by the person only if prescribed by a medical practitioner. Also, the drugs or medications must be recorded by a pharmacist. You cannot claim over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements, even if prescribed by a medical practitioner.

Pressure pulse therapy devices for treating a balance disorder – prescription required.

Reading services provided to a person who is blind or has a severe learning disability and paid to someone in the business of providing these services. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that these services are necessary.

Real-time captioning used by a person with a speech or hearing impairment and paid to someone in the business of providing these services.

Rehabilitative therapy including lip reading and sign language training to adjust to a person’s loss of hearing or speech.

Renovation or construction expenses – the amounts paid for changes to give a person access to (or greater mobility or functioning within) their dwelling, when that person has a severe and prolonged mobility impairment or lacks normal physical development.

Costs for renovating or altering an existing dwelling or the incremental costs in building the person’s principal place of residence may be incurred. These costs can be claimed minus any related rebates such as for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST).

Renovation or construction expenses have to be reasonable and meet the following conditions:

  • they would not typically be expected to increase the value of the dwelling; and
  • they would not normally be incurred by persons who have normal physical development or who do not have a severe and prolonged mobility impairment.

Make sure you get a breakdown of the costs. Costs could include:

  • buying and installing outdoor or indoor ramps if the person cannot use stairs;
  • enlarging halls and doorways to give the person access to the various rooms of his or her dwelling; and
  • lowering kitchen or bathroom cabinets so the person can use them.

While these incurred costs to renovate or alter a dwelling to accommodate the use of a wheelchair may qualify as medical expenses under the conditions described above, these types of expenses related to other types of impairment may also qualify. In all cases, you must keep receipts and any other related documents to support your claim. Also, you must be able to show that the person’s particular circumstances and the expenses incurred meet all of the conditions.

Respite care expenses.

School for persons with an impairment in physical or mental functions – a medical practitioner must certify in writing that the equipment, facilities or personnel specially provided by that school are required because of the person’s physical or mental impairment.

Scooter – the amount paid for a scooter that is used instead of a wheelchair.

Sign-language interpretation services used by a person with a speech or hearing impairment and paid to someone in the business of providing these services.

Spinal brace

Standing devices for standing therapy in the treatment of a severe mobility impairment – prescription required.

Talking textbooks in connection with enrolment at a secondary school in Canada or a designated educational institution for a person who has a perceptual disability. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that the expense is necessary.

Teletypewriters or similar devices that enable a person who is deaf or unable to speak to make and receive phone calls – prescription required.

Television closed caption decoders for a person who is deaf – prescription required.

Tests – the cost of medical tests such as electrocardiographs, electrocardiograms, metabolism tests, radiological services or procedures, spinal fluid tests, stool examinations, sugar content tests, urine analysis, and x-ray services. Also, you can claim the cost of any related interpretation or diagnosis – prescription required.

Therapy – the cost of therapy received by a person who is eligible for the disability tax credit, provided by someone who is not the spouse or common-law partner of the person who is claiming the expense and who is 18 years of age or older when the amounts are paid.

The therapy has to be prescribed and supervised:

  • for a mental impairment, by a medical doctor or a psychologist; or
  • for a physical impairment, by a medical doctor or an occupational therapist.

Training – the amount paid for you or a relative to learn to care for a relative who has an impairment in physical or mental functions and is a member of your household or dependent on you for support. The amount has to be paid to someone who is not your spouse or common-law partner and who was 18 years of age or older when the amounts were paid.

Treatment centre for a person addicted to drugs, alcohol, or gambling. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that the person requires the specialized equipment, facilities, or personnel provided.

Truss for hernia

Tutoring services that are supplementary to the primary education of a person with a learning disability or an impairment in mental functions, and paid to a person in the business of providing these services to individuals who are not related to the person. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that these services are necessary.

Vaccines – prescription required.

Van – 20% of the amount paid for a van that has been previously adapted, or is adapted within six months of the date of purchase (minus the cost of adapting the van), to transport a person who needs to use a wheelchair, to a limit of $5,000 (for residents of Ontario, the provincial limit is $6,686).

Vehicle modification to permit a person confined to a wheelchair to gain independent access to and drive the vehicle – prescription required.

Vision devices – including eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct eyesight – prescription required.

Visual or vibratory signalling device for a person with a hearing impairment – prescription required.

Vitamin B12 injections for a person with pernicious anaemia – prescription required.

Voice recognition software used by a person who has an impairment in physical functions. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that the expense is necessary.

Volume control feature (additional) used by a person who has a hearing impairment – prescription required.

Walking aids – the amount paid for devices designed exclusively to help a person who has a mobility impairment – prescription required.

Water filter, cleaner, or purifier – the amount paid for a person to cope with or overcome a severe chronic respiratory ailment, or severe chronic immune system disorder – prescription required.

Wheelchairs and wheelchair carriers

Whirlpool bath treatments – the amount paid to a medical practitioner. A hot tub that you install in your home, even if prescribed by a medical practitioner, is not eligible.

Wigs – the amount paid for a person who has suffered abnormal hair loss because of a disease, accident, or medical treatment – prescription required

 

Contact information:

 

For HCSA eligibility or contract questions please contact Ms. Valerie Fraser, Canadian Benefits Consulting Group: 1-800-268-0285 Ext. 242

 

For general HCSA claims questions, please call Great-West Life at 1-877-883-7072. You will have to report your plan number, that is, “160597”, and your id number.

 

 

 

Regards,

 

 

Robert Konopasky, Chair

SMUFU Health & Wellness Trust