New Flexible Spending Program Surprises Skeptics

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Wayne Shannon was skeptical about UT’s new flexible spending account (FSA) program when it was introduced last fall but was interested enough to give it a try.

“I wasn’t sure if the extra steps associated would be worth the money saved,” said Shannon, assistant director of Parking and Transit Services at UT Knoxville.

“I have five immediate family members but have spent minimal time and effort in comparison to the savings and convenience.”

Enrolling in an FSA can be daunting because of the need to estimate how much money to allocate at the beginning of the year. Also, money in the account must be used for eligible expenses within the calendar year or grace period, or it will be lost.

“I started small to see how it would work for me and have been hooked ever since,” said Carolyn Smith, a training specialist at the UT Health Science Center.

The new plan introduced last fall includes a debit card and online and mobile app features.

“After I started using the debit card and realized how easy the program is, I realized I didn’t estimate high enough,” said Denise Cox, director of Development and Alumni Affairs at the UT Space Institute.

In addition to eligible medical expenses, FSAs can be used on certain dependent care expenses, such as daycare.

“The Children’s Center at UT Martin does not accept the program’s debit card, but I’m able to put the expenses into the computer and let the company mail a check,” said Laura Foltz, director of Business Affairs.

To learn more about UT’s flexible spending program, visit or call the UT System Payroll Office at (865) 974-5251. The open enrollment period coincides with the state’s Oct. 1 – Nov. 1, 2013 window.