Save Money with WageWorks: Employee Benefit Programs Offer Tax-Free Funds for a Variety of Spending Needs

Save Money with WageWorks: Employee Benefit Programs Offer Tax-Free Funds for a Variety of Spending Needs
Amber Brooks
By: Amber Brooks
Posted: July 6, 2016
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In a Nutshell: WageWorks is a consumer-directed benefits company, and if you don’t know what that means, they’re more than happy to explain it to you. Simply put, this company provides employers with benefits programs that help people save money in a convenient and hassle-free way. Whether it’s through a tax-free account or a reimbursement program, these services give employees the means to utilize more of their paycheck while still saving for unexpected healthcare expenses. Check out the commuter benefits programs that encourage cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly travel. WageWorks specializes in offering programs to benefit both employees and employers.

As we live day-to-day, buying things to make ourselves happy or comfortable, it’s easy to forget the looming shadow of the future and the inevitability of health-related costs.

I used to say that my healthcare plan was “Don’t get sick.” But now, as I get older, I see how irresponsible that attitude was and how vulnerable I made myself by betting on my immortality instead of readying for the worst. Even though I was lucky and didn’t get sick, it sends shivers up my spine to think what would’ve happened if I had.

If you don’t think you’d be financially prepared for unexpected hospital expenses, you’re certainly not alone. About 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts — what’s worse, 21% of Americans don’t even have a savings account!

This can be a costly mistake in the event of a health crisis, which can come at any time.

However, there are some advantageous employee benefits that offer you incentives to set aside funds and save on healthcare expenses. WageWorks is committed to offering consumer-directed benefits that are cost-efficient for employers and employees. Its scalable delivery model lets employers access programs through a standard web browser on any computer, smartphone, or mobile device.

The app is particularly convenient because paperwork processing is as easy as taking a picture on your phone and uploading it.

Screenshot of the WageWorks homepage

WageWorks enlightens employers and employees about potential benefits programs available to them.

Founded in 2000, WageWorks makes various benefits programs (such as a health savings account or flexible spending account) easier to understand and use. A team of approximately 1,600 employees support employers during the enrollment and execution of various benefits programs.

“This is a benefit that helps people with any income level take home a little more of their pay,” says Britta Meyer, the Chief Marketing Officer, “while being able to actually afford health care expenses, dependent care expenses, commuter expenses, and all those things that they need to pay for.”

WageWorks Can Save You an Average of 30-40% on Expenses

From healthcare benefits to a tuition reimbursement program, WageWorks has put together an assortment of programs and accounts that help people save money. Britta outlined three particular areas where the company excels:

  1. Health Savings Accounts
  2. Flexible Spending Accounts
  3. Commuter Benefit Programs

On average, because of the pre-tax benefits included with most of these programs, people save an average of 30-40% on healthcare and commuter costs.

Screenshot of WageWorks benefits page

“We want to be the best in service,” Britta says, “so we continuously look at what we can do to be more proactive and create a better user experience.”

“These programs have been growing in terms of participants,” Britta explains. “People are taking more advantage of them, which is a really good thing because eventually you’re going to need savings.”

Along with its strong portfolio of services, WageWorks also has learning tools, such as videos, FAQs, and savings calculators, to help users understand these benefits. The savings calculator is a particularly handy way to see how much money you take home when you have a pre-tax benefit such as a health savings account.

1. Health Savings Account

The WageWorks Health Savings Account is a convenient way to store away money that’s untaxed and specifically meant for health costs.

“It’s like a 401k for your health care,” Britta says. “You put pre-tax money away in this health savings account, and then you can use it all the time. You can use it tomorrow, next week, next year — whenever you need it.”

You can also invest this money, so overall it feels rather similar to a 401k. This is a popular option for employees because your money is easily accessible. The health savings account rolls over from job to job, so you never lose that money or the tax benefits that come with it.

“We describe it as a health nest egg,” she notes. “You contribute to it, and it grows over time.”

2. Flexible Spending Account

Similar to a Health Savings Account, the Healthcare Flexible Spending Account offered by WageWorks also makes saving money for your health very simple.

“The Flexible Spending Account gives people the opportunity to set aside money out of their paycheck before it hits taxes,” says Britta. “They’re never going to get taxed on it as long as they use it for eligible healthcare-related expenses.”

These funds supplement your healthcare plan and can be used for anything from allergy medication to major surgery. You just have to make sure your expenses are eligible.

Since October 2013, when industry leaders like WageWorks pushed for the passage of Carry Over legislation, employees won’t lose their money. If you have up to $500 left in the account by the end of the year, you’ll generally be able to keep those funds. These savings are a valuable resource to have in your pocket.

“You can use these funds to pay for your healthcare-related expenses,” the Chief Marketing Officer says, “so you can take care of yourself and be productive, happy, and healthy.”

3. Commuter Benefits

WageWorks was founded as a commuter benefit company, so even though it has since expanded its services, commuter benefits are still an integral part of what the company does. Various Commuter Benefit Accounts offer daily savings to those enrolled.

Through its Commuter Transit Account and Commuter Parking Account, an employee’s commute becomes much more affordable. When enrolled in these programs, employees receive public transport and parking perks that make their daily trek to work both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly. WageWorks also has a Bicycle Reimbursement Program that supports a healthy and pollution-free way to get to work.

Screenshot of WageWorks commuter benefits page

With a web portal and mobile app, WageWorks makes your Commuter Parking Account easy to manage.

San Francisco and New York recently issued ordinances championing benefits like these by mandating that small businesses (with 20 employees or more) offer commuter transit benefits. “This way, the people who have to live and work in the city,” Britta explains, “have a financial incentive to take public transportation to and from work.”

Commuter benefits  improve congestion, air quality, and employee job satisfaction. WageWorks promotes commuter benefits as a wonderful way to save money on an everyday and unavoidable expense.

Raising Awareness and Making Benefits Accessible to All

In partnership with WageWorks, employers are sure to have a smooth and successful enrollment season. This team knows how to motivate and inform people, getting the word out about great programs. “The first step,” Britta tells us “is just being aware they exist.”

On their blog and in webinars, WageWorks makes an enormous effort to explain employee benefit programs in clear terms. The webinars invite clients to learn about open enrollment: how to plan for it, how to execute it, and how to ensure its success.

Screenshot of WageWorks blog

WageWorks has experience assisting with enrollment efforts and communicating the upside of programs like its Fitness Reimbursement Program.

To make benefits programs more effective and less stressful for employers, WageWorks makes sure that their clients understand how to implement these valuable services. With the right information and proper direction, these employers can put their team on a path to success.

Britta emphasizes the importance of individuals preparing for healthcare costs by placing funds into an account dedicated to that purpose. “It’s hard because, when you’re young and healthy, you may not be thinking about what may happen down the line,” she tells us, “but we all know that medical emergencies can occur at any point in life.”

When you’re enrolled in one of WageWorks’ beneficial programs, however, building up your savings becomes much easier.

WageWorks Educates You on Ways to Save

Through engaged service, updated technology, and industry leadership, WageWorks helps employees save money for the future. With these professional benefits programs, everyone wins.

Don’t get caught without savings in an emergency, instead take advantage of the opportunities to save on a daily basis. A majority of Americans fail to prepare themselves for what lies ahead, but you don’t have to be one of them. This is a serious financial issue that WageWorks endeavors to solve with many helpful services.

“Employers have such a huge responsibility on them to relay to their employees the value of these benefits,” she says. “When people don’t engage in the process, they’re making a costly mistake, so we certainly appreciate any opportunity to educate employers and employees alike.”