Like many young millennials, I am a bit of a maximizer. I look for the shortest queue at the supermarket. I try to fit in just one more errand en route to a brunch date, so I don’t have to walk back across town later (I’m often just a smidgen late). And I try to max out my fitness benefit that my work provides me.
Rather than simply paying for your gym membership, like many start-ups these days, my corporate office offers a more flexible 75% refund of up to $500 total in fitness spending per year. Rather than throw it all at a ClassPass that I would underutilize during my erratic travel schedule (that wouldn’t be very good maximizing…), I decide to spend it piecemeal. $150 on a new iWatch (it hurt a little when they came out with version 2.0 a few months later…). $50 on some yoga equipment. And then, I was left to wonder with my remaining $300, what expenses qualify?
I remembered some completely miscellaneous items on a list from when I first joined the company, and the dire complaints of a colleague who couldn’t get his form roller reimbursed (“How is this not fitness equipment?!” he balked). So I knew they were pretty selective about what got through. I decided it was time to do a bit of research.
Unfortunately my intranet pointed me to the WageWorks helpline. I call, and proceed to navigate through the touch-tone. I finally reach a human that asks me the same questions as the automated recording. “What are the last four of your social?” I give them to her. “But that’s not what I see in the system!” she practically gasps. “What does that have to do with my question?” I ask. Indeed, clearly whoever writes these call scripts is not a maximizer themselves. If this were a consultant’s dreamland, I could magically inspire Jedi-like focus within her on how to minimize the time of both the callee and caller are on the phone. I’d waive my hand like Obi-Wan, and say in a soothing voice, “You want to cut out the unhelpful form-filling and answer questions as quickly as possible.” “Yes,” Susan would say, “How can I help?”
Finally, after 20 minutes of help line circles, I learn that nothing intuitive seems to count as exercise. “Does Citi Bike [bike sharing] qualify?” “Yes.” Most places would count that as a commuter benefit, but I was happy to take it. “What about roller blades?” “No, that does not qualify”.
She then points out that all of this stuff is on their website. “Oh!” I say, “I’ll have a look for that.” Of course it wasn’t on the public WageWorks website. It was squirreled away on a private login site hidden within the intranet.
In support of all maximizers out there, I have provided the list of WageWorks qualifying expenses below. This list can vary by employer, but this is a good starting place. Nutritional counseling is in. Swim classes are out. Logic be damned.
|Description||Covered||Benefit||Max Benefit p.a.|
|Activity Tracker or Smartwatch (once every 3 years)||Yes||75%||$150|
|Any expenses not explicitly listed||No|
|Bike Sharing Memberships (Monthly or Annually only)||Yes||75%||$500|
|Fitness Center, Club or Studio Membership||Yes||75%||$500|
|Fitness games for game consoles||No|
|Golf Lessons (including those from a country club)||No|
|Golf or Country Club Membership||No|
|Health Center or Club Membership||Yes||75%||$500|
|Health Spa Membership||No|
|Home Fitness Equipment||Yes||75%||$500|
|Initiation Fee (for covered services)||Yes||75%||$500|
|IWatch with tracking capability||Yes||75%||$150|
|Medical Expenses / Medical Copays||No|
|Monthly billing fee (for covered services)||Yes||75%||$500|
|Mountain/Road Bikes (One every five years)||Yes||75%||$500|
|Shoes and Apparel||No|
|Smart Watch with tracking capability||Yes||75%||$150|
|Smoking Cessation Products||No|
|Swim Club Membership||No|
|Tae Kwan Do||Yes||75%||$500|
|Tennis Club Membership||No|
|Tennis Lessons (including those from a Country Club)||No|
|Weight Watchers Meals||No|
|Weight Watchers Registration Fee||Yes||75%||$500|
|Wireless Activity Tracker (once every three years)||Yes||75%||$150|