Flexible Spending Accounts


Regular full-time employees may participate in either or both of the following flexible spending accounts (FSA):
Health Care Flexible Spending Account - This account allows you to set aside funds on a pretax basis to cover anticipated out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision care expenses for yourself and for your dependents. The maximum allowable amount for a health care FSA is $2,500 for 2015.

If both you and your spouse are employees of Penn State and have FAMILY coverage under the PPO Savings Plan (high-deductible) with the Health Savings Account (HSA), a HEALTH CARE Flexible Spending Account (FSA) cannot be opened under either employee. The IRS does not permit use of a health care FSA when enrolled in an HSA. (The Dependent Care FSA is available to either employee up to the IRS limits)
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account - This account is for employees who have day care needs for their children or an adult dependent. It allows you to set aside funds on a pretax basis to reimburse work-related day care expenses that are incurred for the care of eligible dependents. Unlike the health care FSA, money contributed to the dependent day care FSA is still subject to Pennsylvania state income tax. The maximum allowable amount for a dependent day care FSA is $5,000 for 2015. Check out the dependent care brochure from Highmark.


The Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are administered by Highmark Blue Shield. For all questions, Highmark's customer service representatives can be reached at 1-800-914-4384.

From Highmark Blue Shield’s website, you can easily submit your cost share (copayments, deductible, coinsurance) to your FSA and request payment be made directly to your network doctor or hospital. This prevents you from having to “pay up front” and wait for reimbursement from your FSA. If you would prefer to have the payment sent directly to you, that is an option as well. You can have the payment direct deposited to your bank account or have a check sent to you. For instruction on how to use your FSA for these various payments, please review How to Pay Expenses Using Your FSA.

You also have the ease of using the “debit” card provided by Highmark, which gives you the benefit of having your entire year’s election UP FRONT; you may need to submit receipts after you have used your debit card in order to satisfy IRS regulations for “substantiation”.  Use of the debit card is voluntary, but provides the convenience of not having to pay out of pocket and wait for your reimbursement.

All FSA reimbursements must be submitted to Highmark no later than March 31 of the following calendar year for active employees.

If you have terminated or retired, you have 90 days from the termination/retirement date to submit receipts for reimbursement. Please note that you may only submit receipts that you've incurred on or before your termination/retirement date.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions to learn about the great changes and how you can save tax money.


  • Both FSAs require employees to make a new election each year
  • Newly hired employees must elect FSA participation during the first 31 days of employment

New For 2016 - Carry-Over Provision

The Employee Benefits division is pleased to announce that Penn State will implement a carry-over provision for the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), effective January 1, 2016. 

What does this mean to you?

If you are in the Health Care FA for 2016, and you have a balance in your 2015 Health Care FSA, the University will permit you to carry over up to $500 into the 2016 benefit year (as permitted by the IRS). In order to properly access any carried over funds, please be aware of the following stipulations:

  • The FSA debit card cannot be used to pay 2015 claims submitted after Dec. 31, 2015. Any 2015 claims need to be submitted online via the Highmark FSA portal (www.highmarkblueshield.com) from Jan. 1 – March 31, 2016. Claims forms are also available at:  https://blog.highmark.com/medical-prescription-and-spending-account-forms-for-highmark-members/ if you choose to submit your claims via paper. 
  • Any FSA balance still remaining as of April 1, 2016 will be carried over (up to $500) and added to your 2016 FSA balance and can be used for 2016 dates of service until exhausted.The carried over FSA funds will then be accessible with the debit card at this time as well. The carry-over provision will continue under the same guidelines from 2016 into 2017.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, any FSA claims you submit for 2016 dates of service will be debited against your 2016 FSA balance. Your FSA debit card can also be used to pay 2016 claims.


Please use the following link for the most up-to-date versions of Highmark's spending account reimbursement claim forms. If you need help finding a Highmark form, please contact Highmark directly at (800) 914-4384.

Medical, Prescription, and Spending Account Forms for Highmark Members

If you are retiring or otherwise leave Penn State, you have 90 days from your last day of work to submit your FSA claims for processing.

All questions about your FSA funds or claims should be directed to Highmark at 800-914-4384.

Additional Resources