Match made in heaven

Monday, February 25, 2013

There’s a new revenue stream gaining momentum on the HME scene: Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs.)

Providers say having money specifically set aside for medical expenses has some customers more willing to shell out for retail HME, especially with the economy in a slump. 

“In 2012, we’ve seen an upsurge in the use of FSAs,” said Helen Newman, a customer service specialist at Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Komfort and Kare.

FSAs allow employees to have some of their salary set aside for qualified medical expenses. That money is tax-exempt, but must be used by the plan’s year-end.

With the use-it-or-lose-it structure of FSAs, that means not wasting one cent, Newman says.

“They call and say, ‘I have $17 left, what can I get?’” he said.

Provider Mike Kuller says customers use their FSAs to purchase a myriad of products.

“We probably have a half a dozen people a month using them here,” said Kuller, president of Allstar Medical Supply in Concord, Calif. “They’re buying orthotics, knee braces, wedge pillows and a lot of bath safety items like benches and toilet risers.”

Still, FSAs aren’t foremost on the minds of all HME customers. Provider Jim Greatorex says his staff has to remind customers they can use their FSAs on HME.

“They’re happy to use them, but it isn’t a natural thing,” said Greatorex, president of Portland, Maine-based Black Bear Medical.