Max’s Back Pocket Vol. VI

This was the first week since starting my questionable blogging career that I just didn’t feel like writing. Call it a lack of motivation. Even up until this morning, I was going to take a week off from the “Max’s Back Pocket” series. Perhaps some of the stress and complete routine destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is catching up to me. Even Mrs. Max OOP wasn’t 100% this week. We also got some snow; I’m sure that didn’t help.

My backyard this past Thursday

It was actually a pretty light week, though. We assumed this, but Mrs. Max OOP will officially be teaching from home for the remainder of the year. Remote learning seems to be taking up more of her time than in-person learning.

Our rural New England town is all but completely shut down. Several people from surrounding states decided to use our vacation town as a place to hide out and quarantine. I suppose if they follow the rules and social distance, I am fine with that. Most of them probably own places up here and pay taxes just like me.

I found a place in one of the storage areas at work that has some exercise equipment including a (plugged in) treadmill and several free-weights. There is no bench press but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. I worked out in the storage area in the dark by myself Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It was nice to get back into the routine, though I miss the social aspect of my normal gym. I shouldn’t pat myself on the back too much though, this guy built his own gym out of trees. Pretty impressive.

Now it is finally Saturday. When Mrs. Max OOP gets up, we will have coffee. Then I will file my taxes. I know they are not due until July 15th, but due to some poor tax planning the Max Out of Pocket crew will be getting a refund.

Max’s Back Pocket

Over the last several years, I have absorbed a ton of great content from a lot of talented people in and around the internet. A lot of those ideas even got implemented into my personal finance strategy. Some of these people are professionals, but a lot of them are just amateurs throwing their weight around in a random niche. I like to think I am pretty good at healthcare and personal finance, but there are plenty of people out there much smarter than me.

Up until now, most of these ideas just landed in my back pocket. There they would sit for my own benefit whenever I needed them. They were rarely shared or exchanged with anyone in my personal network. These days, that is no longer the case. Max will start scouring the entire internet for these ideas in a weekly effort to not only spread but recognize the wealth of knowledge that is out there. This weekly check-in will also give me an excuse to catch up on what’s going on around here more often. What are we calling this idiomatic experiment?

Max’s Back Pocket.

Personal Finance

For those who don’t know, the Cares Act loosened up what we can claim with our HSA account. It lets us use our HSA to buy over-the-counter drugs, medical supplies, and even menstrual products. It struck the following sentence from Section 223(d)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code:

Such term shall include an amount paid for medicine or a drug only if such medicine or drug is a prescribed drug (determined without regard to whether such drug is available without a prescription) or is insulin.

Section 223(d)(2)

Now it looks like this.

Such term shall include an amount paid for medicine or a drug only if such medicine or drug is a prescribed drug (determined without regard to whether such drug is available without a prescription) or is insulin. For purposes of this subparagraph, amounts paid for menstrual care products shall be treated as paid for medical care.

Section 223(d)(2)

This was a pretty powerful sentence, and now it is gone. It also goes retro back to 1/1/2020. The same changes were made to FLEX spending accounts and Archer MSAs. Me, I live and die by the HSA.

But this is going to take some behavioral modification to make sure we capture these expenses. Just this weekend, I bought some drugs over the counter (I technically just grabbed them off a shelf). As I write this, I have absolutely no idea what I did with the receipt for those drugs. Don’t be like me, get a process in place NOW for this!


The Journal of Hospital Medicine published Ten Tips for a Crisis: Lessons from a Soldier on April 2nd. This was shared by one of our administrators at work and a great read for anyone, not just those working on the front lines. I think the first point about finding a battle buddy is spot on for anyone having a hard time with any part of the COVID-19 epidemic.

As for out-of-pocket costs for the treatment of COVID-19, just type it into google news and you will see all the payers waiving them for the treatment.

Insurance companies doing good things


Way back when I introduced “Max’s Back Pocket”, I committed to doing about eight of these updates, and I am glad I did this one. Once I get writing I always seem to enjoy it, and it seems to be good for the mind.

But now I need to go search my trashcan for those over-the-counter drug receipts. Then I will pull up Turbo Tax and file my 2019 taxes. Hopefully, me and my “battle buddy” can get out for a run or hike today to try to change things up a bit.

How is your motivation fairing? Any interesting things going on?


2 Responses

  1. Your exercise commitment is impressive! Thank you for the reminder on HSA menstrual products… As the mom of a girl, I’m definitely going to save those receipts!

    • Max OOP says:

      Yes, maybe a good reason to buy in bulk to make saving the receipts less burdensome. I was thinking about taking inventory once or twice a year of our over the counter needs and buying it all at once with one receipt. Could make things easier for reconciliation.


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