Health and wellness spending accounts are offered at the request of employers as a flexible complement to your regular group benefits. If you're unsure whether you have a health and/or wellness spending account or what package you’re enrolled in, check your Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP) ID card on My ASEBP or the My ASEBP Mobile App.
Note that the following is a comprehensive summary of the official, legally binding ASEBP insurance policies and plan documents, which are available through your employer or by contacting us.
Health Spending Account (HSA)
If you have an HSA, your employer will allocate credits (dollars) into your account, which you can use to pay for eligible health-related expenses that aren’t fully covered under your ASEBP benefits or provincial health care insurance plan. Your HSA also provides you with a tax advantage by using tax-free dollars to pay for eligible expenses.
Generally speaking, if a medical expense is eligible for reimbursement through your benefit plan with ASEBP, then it’s eligible for your HSA. Most medical expenses that qualify for an HSA fall under this category. Note that you must exhaust all of your provincial health care insurance and other benefit plan coverage options before your expense is eligible for reimbursement under your HSA.
While ASEBP is not in a position to confirm the exact expenses allowable under the Income Tax Act of Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does provide a list of eligible medical expenses based on their interpretation of the Act on their website. Note that the Income Tax Act of Canada also determines the criteria for eligible dependants for HSA expenses, and the CRA includes a definition on their website. For questions about what’s covered under your HSA or dependant eligibility, please contact the CRA.
For information about submitting an HSA expense, see Submitting a Claim.
Wellness Spending Account (WSA)
If you have a WSA, your employer will allocate credits (dollars) into your account, which you can use to pay for eligible wellness-related expenses. Note that unlike your HSA, your reimbursed WSA expenses are taxable.
Depending on which WSA plan you have, eligible expenses for WSA include the following categories:
|WSA 1 (for other education workers)||WSA 2 (for teachers)|
This category assists you with expenses for your dependants. Types of eligible expenses include:
- Child care fees for services provided by someone other than a direct family member, such as:
- Home and daycare
- After-school care programs (excluding additional costs related to activities such as sport clubs, field trips, etc.)
- Home and eldercare, and medical and/or non-medical expenses related to the care of a dependant, child, spouse or parent, such as:
- Medical products/supplies (e.g. drugs/supplements, walkers, medical beds, etc.)
- Non-medical products (e.g. lifts, home installed supportive aids, air filtration products, guide dogs, caregiver guides, etc.)
- Eldercare counselling
- Homecare assistance
- Caregiver support programs
- Respite/holiday and/or weekend care
- Retirement/nursing homes
- Day programs
- Long-term care facilities
- Rehabilitation centre
- Nursing care
- Emergency care
This category covers wearable items that either measure your fitness activity or are primarily focused on fitness or health. Types of covered expenses include:
- Smartwatches (e.g. Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.)
- Fitness and health-related apps
Health Support, Fitness and Sports Activities and Equipment
This category covers expenses that support the overall well-being and physical health of you and your family. Types of covered expenses include:
- Fitness centre/facility membership fees
- Instructed classes at a fitness center/facility (e.g. aerobics classes, yoga, Tai Chi, etc.), drop-in fees or passes
- Sports league/facility fees
- Certified instruction for a physical activity in excess of facility fees (e.g. a personal trainer, Canskate Program for Adults, etc.)
- Home exercise fitness equipment (e.g. treadmills, stationary bikes, weights, etc.)
- Wellness-related programs like weight and nutrition counselling programs (e.g. a nutrition or meal plan purchase, membership fees, etc.) and smoking cessation programs (e.g. fees for seminars, support programs, etc.)
- Over-the-counter remedies with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) printed on the label (e.g. pain relievers, cold medication, etc.)
- Vitamins and supplements with a Natural Product Number (NPN) printed on the label (e.g. vitamin D, ginkgo biloba, etc.)
- Alternative healing therapies not covered by your group benefits or HSA (e.g. stress management programs, hydrotherapy, etc.)
- Sports equipment required for a physical activity (e.g. skis, helmets, hockey equipment, athletic footwear, etc.)
- Personal Protective Equipment (inclusions are gloves, masks (any type), face guards/shields, facility fees associated with COVID health protocols, which may include expenses for supplied masks and additional sterilization or sanitation measures)
This category is intended to financially assist you in pursuing professional development through continuing education. This category can also be used to reimburse you for your eligible dependant’s expenses. Types of expenses covered include:
- Courses, seminars, conferences or classes provided by an accredited educational institution and related to professional development
- Books or texts required for a course, seminar, conference or class
- Professional journals and subscriptions directly related to the enhancement of skills, job competencies, etc.
- Professional fees or registrations and/or voluntary association fees related to your career
- Course travel
This category covers technology expenses. Types of covered expenses include:
- Business related software and hardware
- Internet services
- Computer maintenance and repairs
- Smartwatches (e.g. Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.)
This category is intended to cover expenses associated with commuting to work. Types of covered expenses include:
- Transit passes
- Parking fees (excluding daily parking)
What's not covered?
Under the Income Tax Act of Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides a list of eligible medical expenses based on their interpretation of the Act on their website. If you're curious about a particular expense and can’t find it listed, please contact the CRA to confirm its eligibility.
- Food or supplements designed for weight loss/management (unless it is submitted with a weight management program or purchased in consultation with a dietician)
- Computer games
- Shipping and handling fees
- Expenses that would be covered under your HSA
- Vehicle maintenance, fuel, parts, etc.
Credits and Expense Payments
HSA and WSA credits are deposited into your account at a frequency determined by your employer (e.g. monthly, quarterly, etc.). Eligible expenses will be processed every two business days and, under normal circumstances, you can expect payment within a week of your claim submission as long as you have enough credits available to cover the expense.
HSA/WSA Credit Allocation
If you have both an HSA and WSA, you’ll receive a fixed credit amount each plan year, as determined by your employer, which you’ll need to allocate between your HSA and WSA (e.g. you can allocate 50 per cent to your HSA and 50 per cent to your WSA or 100 per cent to your HSA and zero per cent to your WSA, etc.).
In June, when it comes time to allocate your credits, you’ll receive an email from ASEBP to the email address associated with your My ASEBP account. This notification will also include the deadline for submitting your allocation to us. If you aren’t registered for My ASEBP, you’ll receive this notification by mail. You can complete your allocation by clicking on your Spending Account information on the homepage of My ASEBP.
You must complete your credit allocation by the deadline and, once it’s been submitted, it can’t be changed. If you miss the deadline, all credits will be automatically allocated to your HSA as this is the most tax-effective option.
If you are a new employee or returning from a leave of absence, you’ll have 90 days from your date of enrolment to make your credit allocation, with subsequent allocations due during the summer allocation period for upcoming years.
Monitoring your Balances
You can track your current HSA/WSA balance and activity (i.e. employer credits, expenses and payments) on My ASEBP or the My ASEBP Mobile App.
Approximately 90 days after the end of the plan year, an annual statement will be available on My ASEBP, summarizing your HSA/WSA activity for the entire plan year. If you need help understanding the number of credits that are in your HSA or WSA, or if you feel that there are credits missing, please contact your employer.
At the end of the plan year, which runs from September 1 to August 31, you have an additional 60 days (September 1 to October 30) to submit any expenses to your spending account that were incurred during the previous plan year (e.g. if you have an expense from September 1, 2018, you’ll have until October 30, 2019, to submit it to your HSA or WSA.).
Once this 60-day run-off period has ended, you can no longer submit any expenses to your spending account for that plan year as expenses cannot be carried forward into subsequent plan years.
After the October 30 submission deadline, any unused HSA/WSA credits will be carried forward for one plan year. If you do not use these credits in the second plan year, they will be forfeited back to your employer. HSA/WSA credits are tracked on a ‘first in, first out’ basis to minimize the risk of forfeiting credits for the upcoming year.
When you view your account balances on My ASEBP, any unused credits from the previous year are identified as “Credits Carried Forward from Previous Year” and will only become available after the 60-day run-off period is over and your eligible expenses have been paid for the previous year (usually by November 30). Note that you will not see your forwarded credits in My ASEBP until the 60-day run-off period is over.
Credits will be carried forward in the account in which they have been allocated—HSA credits carry forward to your HSA and WSA credits to your WSA—and cannot be transferred to another account. Note that expenses can only be claimed in the plan year in which they were incurred and cannot be carried forward if there aren’t enough credits available to pay them in full.
Spending Accounts While on Leave
For information about your Spending Accounts while you're on leave, please see While on Leave.