Health Spending Account Definitions [Glossary of Terms]

By: Updated: November 29, 2018


The Glossary of Terms is here to provide you with clear definitions for all of the financial jargon you will encounter around the topic of Health Spending Accounts (HSA).  We know that financial terminology can be daunting, yet very important to understand, so we have developed this compilation to help you navigate this subject with clarity. 

[This resource was last reviewed and updated on: November 29, 2018]


Health Spending Account (HSA)

Also described as a Private Health Services Plan (PHSP).  The Health Spending Account (HSA) is an employee benefit that provides reimbursement for health-related expenses, over and above regular insurance plans. Health Spending Accounts are administered in agreement with Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.  [Frequently Asked Questions about an HSA]


Eligible Expense

Eligible expenses for a Health Spending Account are determined by the same requirements and guidelines outlined in the Medical Expense Tax Credit guide by the [Canadian Revenue Agency]. 



The plan is a Private Health Services Plan (PHSP) more commonly referred to as an employee health care plan or Health Spending Account (HSA).


Benefit Coordinator

This is generally an Executive, Human Resources member, Payroll Administrator or Bookkeeper for a company. The Benefit Coordinator advises Olympia Benefits of changes within the plan.


Plan Year

The plan year is the date referred to in the Plan Summary.  It marks the specific annual life-cycle dates specific to the plan. 


Effective Date

The effective date is the date the plan officially commences.


Service Date

All claimed expenses are based upon the date that the service or prescription occurred, not by the date the payment was made. If benefits have been exhausted in a plan year, the receipt cannot be carried forward into the next plan year.


Rollover of Benefits

The employee's unused portion of the fixed dollar amount that was allocated to them, that will be carried forward into the next plan year. The carried forward amount must be utilized within 12 months.


Forfeit or Reset of Benefits

The unused portion of the established fixed dollar amount assigned to the employee, which will not be carried forward into the next plan year.


Pro-rated Benefits

The established fixed dollar amount that is proportionately distributed by the months the employee is eligible on the plan. This is applicable to the first plan year only.


Monthly Benefit

The established annual benefits that are distributed to the employee in twelve equal allotments and accumulate monthly. If benefits are allocated on a monthly basis you have two options: 1. Send in your eligible receipts after enough benefits have accrued to pay out the entire claim or 2. Send in your eligible receipts and we will diarize the claim and pay you out monthly as your benefits accrue to the maximum allowable.



Dependents are defined as your legal spouse and unmarried, unemployed dependent children including natural, adopted or step-children. Children of a common-law spouse may be covered if they are living with the employee.

  1. a) A spouse of an eligible Employee who is either:
  2. legally married to the Employee; or
  3. a person who is living with the Employee and who is publicly represented as the Employee’s spouse or partner; and
  4. b) Any financially dependent member of the Employee’s household with whom the Employee is connected by blood relationship, marriage or adoption.

Dependent children are eligible for benefits to a maximum of 25 years of age if the child is a full-time student or is mentally and/or physically disabled.


Common-law Partner

This applies to a person who is not your spouse, with whom you are living and share a conjugal relationship, for at least 12 continuous months.


Cheque Reimbursement Fee

The fee charged directly to each claimant for the cost of producing and mailing a cheque for each claim processed. The fee is deducted directly from the amount of the claim reimbursement. There is no fee if direct deposit is in place.


Before Tax Dollar

Refers to an amount of money (personal income) before taxes are deducted.   If you earn $10.00 and your marginal tax rate is 35%, you will have $6.50 after tax.  In this case, a before tax dollar refers to the amount of $10 before any tax is deducted.


After Tax Dollar

Refers to an amount of money (personal income) after taxes are deducted.   If you earn $10.00 and your marginal tax rate is 35%, you will have $6.50 after tax.  In this case, an after tax dollar refers to the amount of $6.50 that you get to keep after tax is deducted.


Employee Benefits

Various types of non-wage compensation provided to employees in addition to their normal wages or salaries. In most countries, most kinds of employee benefits are taxable to at least some degree. [Wikipedia].  A Health Spending Account is one of the few benefits that is tax-free to both the employer and employee.


Administrative fee

This is the percentage charged to the company by Olympia Benefits Inc. on the eligible amount to be reimbursed on a claim. Administrative fees are not charged to the employee. Administrative fees are tax deductible to the company. 



An arrangement by which a company or the state undertakes to provide a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a specified premium. [Oxford Dictionary]



The description of an agreement made by two parties freely and independently of each other, and without some special relationship, such as being a relative, having another deal on the side or one party having complete control of the other... [Source: Legal Dictionary]


Taxable income

The amount of income you have to pay tax on, after tax credits and deductions. [Source: Ontario Securities Commission]


Small and medium sized businesses across Canada use Health Spending Account's as an alternative option to traditional health insurance plans.  This type of account offers incorporated companies the advantage of cost-control and flexible benefits without escalating premiums.

If you would like to learn more about HSA's, download the free guide below. 

 Download Beginner's HSA Guide for an incorporated individual


Write off 100% of your medical expenses

Are you an incorporated business owner with no employees? Learn how to use a Health Spending Account to pay for your medical expenses through your corporation: 

Download the HSA Guide for Incorporated Individuals

Do you own a corporation with employees? Discover a tax deductible health and dental plan that has no premiums:

Download the HSA Guide for a Business with Staff

What's in this article

Subscribe to thge small buisness outlook

Subscribe to the blog