April 25, 2012

Jeremy Miller ’10: The ABCs of FSAs

Businesses that were first pitched as part of Columbia’s A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition are proving that visionary thinking — and tenacity — are keys to entrepreneurial success.

>>The Idea: To make Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) easy for employees to use. FSAs allow people to put aside pre-tax money to pay for insurance co-pays, prescription medication, and other health products. Employees base their contributions on estimated healthcare costs for the coming year; any money not spent by year-end is forfeited.

“It’s a use-it or lose-it account,” says Jeremy Miller ’10, who refined his idea through the competition, winning second prize in 2009 and an honorable mention in 2010. “But not everyone can accurately predict their costs.” Some 35 million Americans have FSAs, says Miller, but in 2010 alone, $450 million was left unspent in these accounts.

>>The Business: FSAstore.com, which Miller launched with Azar Gurbanov ’10 in June 2010, features thousands of FSA-eligible products, services, and healthcare providers. With 2011 regulations limiting spending on non-prescription products, FSAstore.com educates consumers through an online learning center. The company will also contact members’ doctors for prescriptions for over-the-counter medicines that now require prescriptions to be FSA-eligible.

>>The Takeaway: If you have an idea, “just do it,” Miller says. “That motto was even my log-in password for my Columbia e-mail account. It helped me keep pushing forward.”

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