Case Management vs HRA Debit Cards

Last month’s article about the Care Management benefit caused a bit of consternation amongst the loyal readers of this newsletter. It wasn’t that it was not well received or that it wasn’t informative, it was …., on both counts. But several of you made the case that another article about the misuse of the HRA debit card would have been a better choice for the simple reason that it may stop the incorrect and incessant jobsite prattle of those who have chosen to disenfranchise themselves from learning about how that benefit works.

That’s probably an accurate assessment, provided of course the word “may” remains in that sentence.

Conversely, where would we be without hope? Moreover, who would we be if we didn’t try?

“What is the Smart Money Doing?”

Ultimately, we’re not kidding ourselves. We know that “the smart money” is against anything, let alone the facts, winning over the hearts or minds of those that are determined to believe an alternate reality. How do we know this? These individuals’ actions, or more to the point, the continued lack thereof.

“Our Delirium….?”

Nevertheless, we will continue to make a stand for these individuals’ better selves. Why? Because we choose to believe that they are better than this.

I know that the majority of you that commented about that article don’t share that same point of view. And as made clear by one of you, this is our delirium. However, please be advised that this choice does not mean that we bail participants out when they repeatedly make the same mistake, we don’t. That would not only be a misuse of limited and scarce Fund resources, but also, in our humble opinion, be un-American.

“The Apple Falls Far from the Tree”

As we all know, our nation was founded on the value of the individual. That one rises and falls on their achievements or failures. This and economic opportunity are precisely the reasons why our ancestors flocked to this county and why many people still do it today.

Can you imagine what each of our ancestors would think if they saw us today? I think they would be stunned at how easy our lives are in comparison to what they experienced and astounded and conceivably disgusted at the fact that some people continuously battle against personal accountability and responsibility.

Rules & Standards vs Empathy and Compassion

We certainly understand that some participants want to use the HRA Credit Benefit debit card whenever and wherever they please. We also get that these participants do not like doing the work needed to clean up their errors. However, these desires and dislikes simply do not negate Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

Now the Fund hates seeing participants making such mistakes. It likes that as much as it likes incurring the wrath and blame from those that have violated Internal Revenue Service rules and believe that they should not be accountable to correct their errors.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Fund has rules and standards. Now, and make no mistake, having rules and standards does not mean we do not have empathy or compassion. We do. We just “front load” our empathy in the form of all the content that we provide. We do this in the hopes of helping people avoid violating any of the rules and standards of the Plan. Why do we do that? Because once those are crossed, we have to administer the Plan as it is written. No exception.

Listed below is a brief synopsis of the instances where this particular benefit was discussed and/or explained:

  • The Health and Benefit Fund’s SPD (The benefit is practically described in 12-part harmony!)
  • The HRA FAQs on the Funds website.
  • The HRA landing page on the Funds website.
  • April 2024 Newsletter – This letter.
  • January 2024 Newsletter
  • December 2023 Newsletter
  • September 2023 Newsletter
  • November 2022 Newsletter
  • March 2022 Newsletter
  • October 2021 Newsletter (This one ruffled some feathers!)
  • June 2021 Newsletter
  • April 2021 Newsletter
  • It was discussed at both of September 2023 Benefit Funds educational meetings.
  • There were warnings on the document that the cards were affixed when you first received the cards as well as on the document that any replacement cards were affixed.
  • And was discussed at several monthly membership meetings. And, before almost every membership meeting by the Fund Manager

When you think about that, I mean really think about it, is not the repeated issuance of all this content a form of compassion?

Support vs Enabling.

Hey, remember how the Fund used to match up EOBs to those HRA submissions that either the participant failed to submit or for those claims that they improperly used their debit card? Most participants just took it for granted that this was once done for them. Sadly, most choose to forget this as well as the reason why that process stopped.

However, there is one person who remembers that the Fund did this. That person was the individual who complained about this practice.

It’s kind of a long story but the reasons for the change in policy came down to two things. First, that practice caused some unintended consequences. As it turned out, not all HRA transactions were as “clean” and “innocent” as some participants purported.

Suffice it to say, there is a fine line between support and enabling. The latter keeps others from improving themselves. Equally important, the stats showed that the Funds practice of doing this for the membership only enabled and encouraged unhealthy debit card habits and behaviors.

Another consequence is that participants lost agency over what claims they wished to be reimbursed and what ones they did not want reimbursed. This is what the aforementioned individual complained about.

Guess what? He had a valid point and the Board agreed with it.

The second reason is that 697 members are entrusted with hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions of dollars of equipment and supplies each year and make big decisions, some of them life and death decisions, each day. Should they not be entrusted with the proper use of a piece of plastic?

The Board thought so. Still does.

“No Good Deed Goes Unpunished…”

Unfortunately, what should be celebrated and appreciated for its convenience is unfortunately abused. The Fund is unclear as to how this could be because, well, …., all of the correspondence that was listed earlier.

I am not too proud of a man to admit a mistake and I now know that the creation of the debit card was one massive and colossal one. Simply put, it’s proven to be too much for some people to handle.

So, my apologies to all those participants who did the right thing, but nevertheless had to endure the erroneous stories and flawed assumptions and remarks of those that didn’t and/or had to bear the diatribe of those that continue to be irresponsible and unaccountable. Double apologies, if said stories were delivered with the same righteous indignation that was directed to the Fund.

Conversely, much gratitude to those that neither believed nor fed into those inaccurate stories. Thank you. I know that you will continue to seek the good and the truth.