Software May Soothe Your Document Headaches
Managing a flexible spending account can be difficult amid the blizzard of paper dumped on even a healthy family. A new class of software is trying to sweep the doctor docs into PC organizers, similar to software that tracks a checkbook.
The best known, in fact, comes from Intuit, maker of the most popular personal financial software. The Quicken Medical Expense Manager ($50 at quickenmedical.com) is easy to understand in charting what you spent where, on what, and who owes whom. As you record an expenditure, you can mark it for submitting to your FSA administrator. You can later record it as reimbursedmaking it easy to call up a list of what's outstanding. The software also can unearth overpayments to doctors and underpayments from insurers.
SimoHealth ($40 at simohealth.com) has similar functions and is now part of Revolution Health Group, a new company run by Steve Case, cofounder of AOL.
Trapped. Both programs include templates for dispute letters, easing challenges to insurers and providers. But neither captures scans of documents, so keep your paper files handy. Also, neither can export data, so your records are potentially trapped in whichever program you choose. That alone favors the software from more established Quicken.
Finally, the electronic keepers are only as good as the data you inputneither can download from online sources, the most powerful feature of modern financial software. Quicken, for one, is working with major health players to develop a system of consumer-accessible electronic records, while other efforts are underway at companies like Wal-Mart and Intel.
For now, a healthy single person might not benefit enough from the hassle of inputting medical data. Test it yourself at SimoHealth with a free 30-day trial, and see if your snowdrift of docs is worth the shoveling.
This story appears in the December 11, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.