Health Care Flexible Spending Account

Health Care Flexible Spending Account

A Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a pre-tax benefit account used to pay for eligible medical, dental, and vision care expenses that aren’t covered by your insurance plan or elsewhere. It’s a smart, simple way to save money while keeping you and your family healthy.


You are eligible for an MIT Health Care FSA if you are paid by MIT, are appointed to work at MIT for at least three months, and work at least 50% of the normal full-time work schedule. Learn more about eligibility.

Next Steps

  1. Review MIT Health Care FSA details
  2. Enroll or re-enroll in your MIT Health Care FSA (required annually).


How the MIT Health Care FSA Works

Although your MIT health and dental plans will cover much of your health care costs every year, you will probably have to pay some portion of your health care expenses out of pocket. The MIT Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a voluntary account offered by MIT and administered by WageWorks. The MIT Health Care FSA makes it possible for you to set aside money from your pay to cover some of the health care expenses not covered by your health plan. The money you contribute—up to the annual limits set by federal law (minimum $104, maximum $2,650)—is not taxed as income, and there is no tax or penalty when you use the money for eligible health care expenses.

When you, your spouse, or dependent children pay for an eligible expense, you are reimbursed through your account. You cannot be reimbursed for the expenses of domestic partners.

You can submit claims for reimbursement up until April 30th each year for eligible services received through December 31st of the previous plan year.

More on Eligibility

Who is eligible

  • you have been appointed—and are currently employed—to work at MIT for at least three months
  • you work at least 50% of the normal full-time work schedule
  • you are paid by MIT

Who is NOT eligible

  • contractor
  • affiliate
  • teaching or research assistant
  • honorary lecturer
  • summer appointment
  • international visiting student
  • member of the armed services assigned to MIT
  • family member who is not employed by MIT
  • work-study student
  • paid by MITemps

Members of collective bargaining units

All the plan provisions are subject to the terms of your collective bargaining agreement.

Your Pay and the MIT Health Care FSA

When you make contributions to your MIT Health Care FSA, you receive certain tax benefits on the money you contribute to your account. By setting aside money for these expenses before taxes, you will generally pay less in federal, state and Social Security taxes.

Participation in an MIT Health Care FSA will not affect your salary for the purposes of

  • annual salary reviews
  • 401(k) participation
  • life insurance coverage
  • disability benefits

Use It or Lose It

Be as accurate as you can in estimating your annual eligible expenses, so that you do not contribute more to your MIT Health Care FSA than you expect to claim for reimbursement. Any money left in a Health Care FSA that is not part of the $500 carryover amount you automatically lose after April 30th following the plan year. Use the WageWorks FSA Calculator tool located on WageWork’s website to help you determine how much money you would like to set aside in either account. You may not use this money for any other purpose or transfer the money to any other account.

Eligible expenses include

  • copayments, deductibles, and other expenses not paid by your medical or dental coverage
  • prescription drugs covered under any medical plan
  • legally procured over-the-counter drugs required primarily for medical care
  • hearing aids and batteries
  • vision care expenses such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, and contact lens cleaning solution not paid for under any vision plan
  • laser vision or eye-correction surgery
  • weight-loss programs require a medical practitioner to verify medical necessity

Review reimbursement procedures.

Expenses that are not eligible

  • medical and dental premiums
  • premiums you pay for other insurance (including COBRA)
  • cosmetic surgery
  • equipment that is not medically necessary
  • over-the-counter drugs not required primarily for medical care 
  • health club dues or the cost of a personal trainer
  • teeth whitening or bleaching
  • tattoo removal

Contact WageWorks at 1-877-924-3967 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST if you have questions about what is covered under your MIT Health Care FSA. You can also view the list of eligible expenses for more information.

How to Enroll in an MIT Health Care FSA

Sign up when you begin work at MIT. Use Atlas to sign up for a Health Care FSA within 31 days of your date of hire or appointment—or within 31 days of the date you receive your official Welcome Letter, whichever is later.

Sign up during Open Enrollment. If you do not enroll within this 31-day period, you must wait until the next annual Open Enrollment period, which takes place in the fall. Your account will then take effect on the following January 1.

Enroll as a result of a life event. If you experience a change in your life that has an impact on your benefits, you can enroll outside the Open Enrollment period.

Learn more about enrolling or re-enrolling in an MIT Health Care FSA.

What Else You Should Know

Medical practitioner's notes vs. prescriptions

What's the difference between a Medical Practitioner's note and a Prescription for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and drugs, and when is each required?

Medical practitioner (doctor's) notes:
  • For some expenses (for example, dietary supplements), a letter of medical necessity (below) is required to verify that the expense qualifies as medical care.
  • To be allowable, a letter of medical necessity may be written by a doctor of medicine, dentistry, podiatry or optometry; an authorized chiropractor, an alternative healer; or other qualified medical practitioner.
  • A letter of medical necessity must contain all of the following items:
    1. date
    2. patient's name
    3. medical practitioner's name
    4. statement of medical necessity
    5. the prescribed treatment
    6. the duration of treatment required
  • WageWorks will keep a copy of valid letters on file so it is not necessary to include previously submitted notes with each submission.
Prescription for OTC medicines and drugs:

OTC medicines and drugs require a physician's prescription to be eligible.

  • A valid prescription is an electronic or written order for a medicine or drug that meets the legal requirements of a prescription in the state in which the medical expense is incurred, and that is issued by an individual authorized to issue a prescription in that state.
  • Due to its interpretation of IRS rules, WageWorks will NOT keep a copy of prescriptions on file. For OTC medicines and drugs, you must submit your prescription with each submission.
  • You may submit the same prescription as many times as the prescription allows (for example, three times if three refills are prescribed).

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

MIT also offers a Dependent Care FSA, which covers expenses paid to care providers while you are at work.