Healthcare Remimbursement Accounts: Medical Costs

My Healthcare Reimbursement Account (HRA) with AT&T is helping to pay our medical costs in the Philippines. Just got reimbursed for a recent ultrasound and blood test that my asawa had in a healthcare clinic in Guimaras. Funny thing is that I didn’t know I had this option available to me until last year when I was checking on some information on an unrelated issue with my benefits department.  Got to talking with the helpful employee about moving to the Philippines and being married to a Filipina. Turns out the lady I was speaking to was a Japanese American and when checking out my account asked me if I knew I qualified for an HRA. “What’s that?” I asked. The Kano goes to emergency

A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is an employer-sponsored benefit program approved by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that reimburses employees for qualified medical care expenses not already paid for by the employer’s health plan. The HRA is a great way to help stretch your healthcare budget because it allows you to pay for healthcare expenses with money that is not taxed.

I signed up for the program and discovered I already had $2,000 in funds available to me to pay for some medical costs I had incurred during a visit to a hospital and healthcare clinic in Iloilo in which I had a blood test and an ultrasound done for a kidney stone attack I suffered last year. I was able to get reimbursed for my total costs which were around 400 US Dollars. When you’re on a fixed income such as we are, 400 dollars is a large sum of money.

So now our HRA has deposited another $75.00 for my wife’s ultrasound and blood test in Guimaras. We have submitted another expense voucher for $100 US Dollars for prescription costs for medication needed by my asawa to shrink a small kidney stone she now has. Takes about three weeks after mailing the form to get reimbursed via direct deposit  to our bank account. The forms, which I download online,  can be faxed, but once the necessary receipts and other forms are attached, it makes it too costly since we don’t have our own fax machine. Only takes 85 pesos (1.95 US Dollars) to get it mailed, and when we use the PhilPost office at SM City in Iloilo our mail has always arrived in the States in a timely fashion.

So if you’re nearing retirement from a company, make sure you explore all of the options available to you. I pride myself on being a guy that checks out all the details, and I always take time to do a lot of research. Had no idea, as I mentioned before, that my former employee would be helping to pay some medical costs once we retired to the Philippines. Now this benefit is in addition to the healthcare insurance I have with AT&T but not all insurance programs offered in the States are available in our new home country. It’s good to have this Healthcare Reimbursement Account, but it would be even better if we didn’t need another ultrasound or blood test at some local healthcare clinic. That would be just fine with me.

4 comments

  1. Hi Dave,

    It would be wise to check out the plan carefully because sometimes they have a use it or lose it clause. So you would want to only keep the account funded with an amount that you predict you will consume within the set period of time. Marie had one with her employer in the US. The company put in two thousand dollars to the account. Before we came here for good we went to Walgreens and stocked up on over the counter medications with the remaining balance.

    1. I was lucky, Tom. My company rolled over the fund every year (about two years after retirement before I discovered it.) Our account is funded for 2,000 dollars also. Good idea to stock up at Walgreens before you left. AT&T does make annual payments to keep our account funded. I don’t put one peso into the fund. I was fortunate to have a good company that I stayed with for almost 30 years that has been generous with my retirement benefits.

  2. Dave,

    That HRA works out great for you. Healthcare cost are cheap here, so the account won’t get depleted very fast. I will get a stipend added to my pension for the purchase of health insurance there. That HRA Account wouldn’t last long in the states. Dave approximately how long does it take for mail to get there from the states? Thanks alot for any info you can provide to me. Be safe.

    1. Well, Papa Duck, if I mail the letter from the PhilPost office at SM City in Iloilo it may take anywhere from a week to three weeks. Express mail service, for around 14 bucks, takes 3-5 days. I send everything air mail international. If I mail it from our local post office in Guimaras, it takes over a month. So far, my most reliable place to mail letters is from the PhilPost place at SM City.

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