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Embarrassment of Riches

Embarrassment of Riches

Ladies and gentlemen of the blogoshere, I present to you…. Da da da daaaa….Flex-dollar Spending Woman.

Due to some severe miscalculations and unforeseen assignments, I was left with $852 in my flexible spending account as of December 18. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, basically the federal government lets you pick a number, any number and then allows you to spend that amount, tax free, for medical expenses— but any amount leftover at the end of the year goes to Uncle Sam. A Brewster’s millions scenario but over 365 days.

Now last year, I blew through my flex spending account by mid-April. I bid too low and ended up paying the price with after-tax bucks. No good. So last December, determined not to make the same mistake I bid twice as much!

That would have been fine, except I ended up assigned to two, nay, three hellish cases and was unable to schedule a planned surgery or visit the many exotic doctors that I circled in my Provider book ( seriously, what is the difference between an opthamologist and an optometrist?)

And so, on December 18, I faced the daunting task of spending more than 800 dollars on medical services without suffering through any painful procedures.
God bless my friends and their many suggestions:
“Laser-Eye surgery!”
“Braces!”
“Ooh, buy up contact lens solution and sell it half price on the streets.”
“Botox!”

Given the many holidays smack dab in the middle of my 13 day medical marathon, there were many who said it couldn’t be done.
“It can’t be done,” they’d say.

And certainly this was no task for any mere mortal…. But for “Flex-dollar Spending Woman,” no problem.

That’s right, mild-mannered Dawn Summers blogs by night, but by day — she gets expensive, relatively painfree medical services.

Day 1: I went to the dentist for x-rays, got a teeth cleaning with the oral hygenist, visited the optometrist and bought a pair of glasses: $10
Damn managed care.

Day 2: I went to the pulmonary specialist for refills on my asthma medicine. She said I was progressing wonderfully from my near-fatal relapse in 2002, and cut me back to one inhaler.
Good news, but I was banking on her for at least four prescriptions… however, she did recommend I follow-up with an allergist, hooray!

I called the allergist to set up an appointment for the next day, but they would not see new patients during the last two weeks of December. Not realizing she was dealing with a bona fide superhero, the secretary kept hawking some dates in January.
Finally, she relented and said if I could get to the office in the next hour, the doctor would see me.
Fifteen minutes later, I was in the waiting room filling out the new patient forms. He was good for the co-pay, but then decided to give me samples of the medicine instead of prescriptions to “see how I reacted” blah blah blah…

All in all I spent $65, but I managed to score a return appointment with the allergist for the following week, being a brand-spanking, shiny return patient and all.

Day 3: I had a session for deep-tissue muscle, back, neck and thigh therapy.
Gotta love the Swedes: $75

Days 4 and 5 were unproductive weekends, lousy no-goodnik doctors. Why don’t they work on weekends??? People get sick on weekends. People die on weekends. People need to spend flex dollars on weekends.
I was feeling pretty discouraged now. Suddenly that whole “buy lots of contact lens fluid and sell it on the street” idea didn’t seem so crazy.

Day 7: Returned to the allergist. He recommended HEPA filters for my apartment, gave me a painful allergy test L and wrote TWO prescriptions!!!
The cost: $588

I then took a big gamble, I made a New Year’s Eve appointment to return to the dentist to repair a couple of fillings. If all went as planned, I would spend all the money on the last possible day — but since I was waiting until the last day of the year, if anything went wrong, I would forfeit more than 100 dollars.

The big day arrived! Today…. would Uncle Sam beat me? I showed up for my dental appointment 3 minutes early… ten minutes later I was in the chair. Mouth-washed and bibbed up… here he comes.
“Sally, bring me the flaxalator… the saw-y thing”
Gulp. Saw-y thing? Who is this guy? Did he say ‘saw?’ Hmmm… Uncle Sam could actually use that hundred bucks for …
“You know, Dawn… this is going to be tricky. The way the previous filling is set-up, I would have to…. Blah blah blah bloopie, bloopie, bloopie … so I would just leave it alone until it’s bothering you.”
Yesss!
I rip off the bib (sweaty, knuckled fists of fear beat paper everytime!) Leap out of the chair and head for the exit.
The elevator ride down was very calming, but, as I left the building I felt defeated, cheated, bitter.
Gray Davis, I hardly knew ye.
As I headed to the subway station, I realized I wasn’t very far from the eyeglasses shop I visited on Day 1.
Credit card in hand, I rushed over to the shop and surprise! They were open on New Year’s Eve.
“Hi, I was in here last week, to buy a pair of glasses. I got a pair that my vision insurance pays for, but would it be possible to buy another pair or prescription sunglasses? Maybe something in Gucci or Burberry?”
Now, I would be lying if I said the saleslady’s eyes, spun round in her head like a Vegas slot machine and changed into flashing dollar signs — but dude: cha-ching!
For the next twenty minutes I was trying on frames and getting oohed and ahhhed by the fantastic salesteam at Fulton Street Eyewear, until I finally settled on a pair for 150 bucks!

Sure, I spent twenty bucks more than I had left in the account, but take that, Uncle Sam.
HA!

Now, for the moment in the dance of jubilant excess, where I wonder who really benefits from this “use or lose it” flexible spending plan. And give a shout out to all the starving children in China and Appalachia who do not have Hepa filters at all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

16 Responses to “Embarrassment of Riches”

  1. Kashei Says:

    Why you copy Ken Wheaton (the colors, the headline)?

  2. Kashei Says:

    Why you copy Ken Wheaton (the colors, the headline)?

  3. Kashei Says:

    Why you copy Ken Wheaton (the colors, the headline)?

  4. Dawn Summers Says:

    Hey, I don’t even read Ken Wheaton, so there. Why’s he all copying me, with his time machined ability to see the future? huh? Tell me dat, since you so smart.

  5. Dawn Summers Says:

    Hey, I don’t even read Ken Wheaton, so there. Why’s he all copying me, with his time machined ability to see the future? huh? Tell me dat, since you so smart.

  6. Dawn Summers Says:

    Hey, I don’t even read Ken Wheaton, so there. Why’s he all copying me, with his time machined ability to see the future? huh? Tell me dat, since you so smart.

  7. metsin04 Says:

    Unfortunately Dawn does not understand the Flex Spending program. The leftover money does not go to Uncle Sam. Rather, it goes to [Dawn's Employer] LLP. I am willing to bet that the benefits department of [Dawn's Employer] LLP does not approve of all of these so-called medical expenses (i.e. Day 3.). We’ll have to wait and see if “Flex-dollar Spending Woman,” is defeated by the benefits department. You should have stuck with the contact lens solution.

  8. metsin04 Says:

    Unfortunately Dawn does not understand the Flex Spending program. The leftover money does not go to Uncle Sam. Rather, it goes to [Dawn's Employer] LLP. I am willing to bet that the benefits department of [Dawn's Employer] LLP does not approve of all of these so-called medical expenses (i.e. Day 3.). We’ll have to wait and see if “Flex-dollar Spending Woman,” is defeated by the benefits department. You should have stuck with the contact lens solution.

  9. metsin04 Says:

    Unfortunately Dawn does not understand the Flex Spending program. The leftover money does not go to Uncle Sam. Rather, it goes to [Dawn's Employer] LLP. I am willing to bet that the benefits department of [Dawn's Employer] LLP does not approve of all of these so-called medical expenses (i.e. Day 3.). We’ll have to wait and see if “Flex-dollar Spending Woman,” is defeated by the benefits department. You should have stuck with the contact lens solution.

  10. PAUL Says:

    Metsin04

    But Uncle Sam still loses out on the tax revenue if Dawn spends all the money.

  11. PAUL Says:

    Metsin04

    But Uncle Sam still loses out on the tax revenue if Dawn spends all the money.

  12. PAUL Says:

    Metsin04

    But Uncle Sam still loses out on the tax revenue if Dawn spends all the money.

  13. Dawn Says:

    Bah, benefits schmenefits.

  14. Dawn Says:

    Bah, benefits schmenefits.

  15. Dawn Says:

    Bah, benefits schmenefits.

  16. Hi there Says:

    Are you there?

    Thanks for clearing this up .

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