When my husband asked me to marry him, I was a little worried about having to come up with the bulk of my wedding expenses on my own since I had spent most of the money my parents had saved for my wedding on the down payment for my condo. I purchased it right around the time when we started dating, so wedding expenses were not really top of mind. But being in love does something to a person’s ability to make rational decisions, so I didn’t worry too much about it. “It will all work out,” I thought. “I’m expecting some pretty big reimbursements, so I should be able to pay for a wedding just fine.”
See, I had this healthcare reimbursement account through my employer. If you’re not familiar, it’s the type of thing where you put pre-tax money into an account from your paychecks all year, and then you can get reimbursed for lots of medical things, which if you use it right, can save you lots of money in “pre-tax” ways. The only thing is, it’s a use it or lose it deal.
At the end of the year I had $400 left in my account, and I wanted to know how I could use it. So I called the company who administers the program, and asked the service rep what I could do to spend the money. We went over the typical things you can use the account for: co-pays, prescriptions, canes and crutches, eye exams, wheelchairs, etc.
“I already turned in all my receipts for co-pays and prescriptions,” I told him. “And fortunately I’m not in the market for a cane or a wheelchair, or any of the other items, right now.”
He chuckled and then thought for a minute. He said that they had just recently added an over-the-counter clause to the rules. He wasn’t a hundred percent familiar with it, but he quickly read through the clause and read off a list of some of the things that would now be covered.
“Blah, blah, blah, feminine products, blah…”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “Feminine products?”
“Yeah, that’s what it says.”
“So you’re telling me that I can go to the store and buy $400 worth of, say… tampons, and it would be covered?”
“Yeah, that’s what it looks like,” he said.
So, of course, I went to Sam’s Club and bought five CASES of tampons. Seven 100-packs per case.
That’s 3,500 tampons.
Nine years supply, if you were wondering. I was 28 at the time, and once you add in several years of pregnancy and nursing, I was pretty much set for life.
And of course — and I know you don’t believe me and you think I’m making this up, but it really, truly happened — of course, as I pushed my cart of tampons, stacked to capacity, to the checkout line, there directly in front of me was my old neighbor from the neighborhood I grew up in. I’ve known her since I was in junior high, but I hadn’t seen her in years. She was with her daughter, Brooke, who is just a year or two older than me, and who was the beautiful, popular girl I had looked up to in my teenage years … and who was always a few steps ahead of me in dating and boys and everything else.
They saw me, so I had to say something.
“Hi Nancy,” I said. I was too embarrassed to do anything but just smile at Brooke.
“Hi,” Nancy said slowly, eying the tampons and then looking up at me. And then back to the tampons. “How are you doing? Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I said, more than a little embarrassed, so I sighed and rolled my eyes, trying to laugh. “It’s a long story, but I’m getting reimbursed.”
We tried to have small talk, but it was just too weird. Very awkward with all those tampons right there. So she finally left.
Then it was the cashier’s turn.
“Are you doing some sort of fundraiser?” she asked super sweetly, trying to act like it was the most normal thing in the world for someone other than a supplier to buy 35 giant boxes of tampons.
“No.” I paused, sensing that I needed to say more. “I’m getting reimbursed. It’s a long story.”
Again, another awkward attempt at small talk. Just give me my receipt, and I’ll be on my way, thank you. At least I’m getting reimbursed.
Finally, the cashier gave me my receipt, and I hurried out of the store. I pushed my cart of embarrassment through the slushy parking lot as fast as I could. As I loaded my newly acquired lifetime supply of tampons into my car, I tried to stack them strategically so other drivers couldn’t see them as they drove past.
I’m getting reimbursed. I’m getting reimbursed.
I didn’t get reimbursed.
When I turned in my reimbursement form, they denied it, saying that tampons are not medically necessary and they do not alleviate pain or discomfort. I’m sorry, but whoever made up that little rule has obviously never menstruated. Tampons absolutely alleviate the discomfort of wearing those bulky adult diapers we call maxi pads.
I appealed their denial and they denied it again, but I was not going to give up on my $400. I had a deposit on wedding photography to put down. I appealed their denials so many times that they finally gave up and just gave me my reimbursement check, but not before explaining explicitly that tampons are not covered, so don’t do it again.
No worries. I have a lifetime supply of tampons.
Not a bad dowry for my husband, don’t you think?
— The Conscious Mom