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CME reimbursement at your employer, how is it handled?

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  • Avatar FIREshrink 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 907
    Joined: 01/11/2017

    My employer generally offers good benefits, but the way they handle CME (specifically reimbursement for CME related travel expenses) wrankles me. Is it petty and infantilizing? Is it just me? I don’t know anywhere I can get a sit down breakfast for under $10, much less in the big cities where these conferences are held. Lunch for under $15 is also tough if you include tax, tip, a drink.

    My SO works for a non-profit and is treated like an adult. She gets a per diem rate which is rembursed, period. She doesn’t have to keep receipts. Her transportation (car rental, train, taxi, etc) and lodging are paid on top of the per diem.

    Our policy is below. What do you think? How is CME handled where you work?

    Receipts

    • ALL receipts must be itemized and contain proof of purchase i.e. last four of your credit card#
    REGISTRATION

    • Only CME/Education events with Cat 1 credits are reimbursable through CME
    HOTEL

    • Upgrades or add-ons are not reimbursable and will be deducted from the hotel bill. Meals included on a hotel bill must include itemized receipts.
    FLIGHT

    • Documentation must contain destination to and from
    • Luggage must be standard size/weight
    • Upgrades and extra charges for seat preference or oversized luggage is not reimbursable
    RENTAL CAR

    • Standard vehicle only
    • Upgrades or add-on’s (fuel option/insurance option) will not be reimbursed
    • Return on full is the only reimbursable fuel option for rental cars
    • Parking is reimbursable w/receipt
      ☐ MEALS– ABC ORG uses the IRS guidelines for reasonable meal expenses: $56.00 per day

    • Breakfast – less than $10.00
    • Lunch – less than $15.00
    • Dinner – less than $31.00
      • Meal allowance may vary based on location
      • Must be itemized per meal/per person. Folio (hotel) charges without itemized receipts are not reimbursable
    • If food for multiple guests on check, please indicate which items belong to Caregiver
      • Snacks such as ice cream, chips, candy are not reimbursable
      • Alcohol is not reimbursable
    OTHER TRAVEL

    • Uber/Taxi –
    • Reasonable business travel is reimbursable i.e. to/from airport to hotel, hotel to event. You must show proof of purchase.
    • Personal vehicle –
    • Paid by mileage only. Fuel is not separately reimbursable
    • Must show proof that it is less expensive to use own vehicle vs. flight. This should be done when requesting Travel Plan. If not, it will be reimbursed UP TO the cost of a flight.
    • Parking is reimbursable w/receipt
    CERTIFICATION OF COMPLETION

    • Documentation from the accredited organization stating you completed event.
    #221009 Reply
    Rogue Dad, M.D. Rogue Dad, M.D. 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 938
    Joined: 03/07/2016

    Your place definitely sounds more restrictive than mine.  I think our meal rates are better ($10/breakfast seems restrictive if you are traveling and in a hotel — you basically would have to bring your food with you).

    My U wants all the receipts, ideally itemized and if in a group they want to know which was yours because they don’t want to pay for someone else’s food.  They will sometimes let it go without itemization — not every random kiosk with bagels gives an itemized receipt.

    They’ve never asked for certification of completion to get reimbursed, but I’ve never gone anywhere where there was doubt about whether I attended, but  not an official policy that’s enforced either way.

    They don’t do per diem here either — I assume their perspective is “why reimburse more than the person spent”?  Fairly sure we reimburse rental cars for gas, not just miles.  Snacks are fine here (not sure what reasoning is against that), alcohol is not.  Our place won’t pay for any upgraded plane tickets (i.e. early boarding cost for Southwest).

    http://www.RogueDadMD.com

    An alt-brown look at medicine, money, faith, and family

    #221011 Reply
    Avatar JBME 
    Participant
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 439
    Joined: 03/26/2018

    My SO works for a non-profit and is treated like an adult. She gets a per diem rate which is rembursed, period. She doesn’t have to keep receipts. Her transportation (car rental, train, taxi, etc) and lodging are paid on top of the per diem.

     

    Click to expand…

    This reminds me of when I worked for a non-profit that did a lot of work overseas. They used some chart by the World Bank I think that noted the per diem rates in a country or a city. Sometimes they were totally ridiculous. I would travel to Nairobi often and the per diem was $250/day or something. If you eat street food you can easily get in 3 meals a day for $10. I was young and had a tough stomach but still the knock on the questionable quality of street food is generally more alarmist than it needs to be. Anyway, if I was in Nairobi for 2 weeks I would pocket over $3k for the trip from the per diem alone. I made so much money on these trips because my transport and lodging were also paid on top of that. I did it but I can tell you I felt a bit slimy given that I was working for a non-profit. Your SO has the best reimbursement scenario. When I switched jobs and asked about a per diem on work trips and getting the per diem no matter what was spent I was laughed out of the room.

    #221023 Reply
    Lordosis Lordosis 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 959
    Joined: 02/11/2019

    Yeah I agree overly restrictive.  Someone must have abused it in the past and now you have to pay for it.

     

    Just get one of those online courses that give you half the course back in amazon gift cards.  Does anyone actually use the material or are these just a way to flush away leftover CME?

     

    “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

    #221029 Reply
    Liked by Megalops
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
    Moderator
    Status: Financial Advisor, Accountant, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 7523
    Joined: 01/09/2016

    That looks like it was designed either by an enthusiastic (and newly-minted) CFO or a committee of tightwad old farts. Any guesses which?

    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~ 270-247-0555
    https://fox-cpas.com/for-doctors-only/

    #221051 Reply
    Liked by Lordosis
    Avatar FIREshrink 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 907
    Joined: 01/11/2017

    Where can I find info about IRS guidelines as far as all of this is concerned?

    #221058 Reply
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
    Moderator
    Status: Financial Advisor, Accountant, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 7523
    Joined: 01/09/2016

    Where can I find info about IRS guidelines as far as all of this is concerned?

    Click to expand…

    Not sure exactly what you mean. This is internal policy. It appears to be tightly in compliance with IRS regs. Unless you’re talking about the per diem rates mentioned above, which you can find here. No business is required to reimburse as much as the IRS allows. If they reimburse more, it is not deductible by the business.

    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~ 270-247-0555
    https://fox-cpas.com/for-doctors-only/

    #221061 Reply
    Avatar LizOB 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 313
    Joined: 06/05/2017

    I got reimbursed for first class to fly to oral boards- really the only reason I did it was because it was a regional jet where one side of first class was only 1 seat in the row and I needed to pump breastmilk on the flight so I thought that would be easiest. Not sure if the policy is to reimburse first class or if nobody noticed.

    I also submitted the billing/coding online course featured on WCI even though it didn’t have CME and got that reimbursed. That was a bit of a gamble but I’m paid on RVUs so I figured it would pay for itself anyways.

    I do have a cap on CME funds that do not carry over year to year so obviously the above items made my expenses higher for the year.

    #221066 Reply
    Avatar artemis 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 491
    Joined: 12/02/2016

    My institution requires receipts for taxis and meals, but doesn’t have such restrictive caps on the charges.  I can eat a $50 dinner and get reimbursed without any issues.

    Rules for flights are similar to yours.  But because I don’t fit well in an Economy Class seat, I’ve worked out a compromise with my department.  I book a First Class ticket, but do an online search to find the cheapest Economy Class ticket that would have worked for my conference and print that out. I then give them my credit card receipt to prove that I did indeed book plane tickets, and then give them the search results and ask to be reimbursed for the cost of that Economy Class seat.  The result is that I’m paying some of the flight costs out of pocket, but not the entire cost.  Ditto with hotels:  my hospital will pay for me to stay at the conference hotel, but not past the end of the conference, so any extra days I have to pay for.

    I’ve never been asked to show certs, but could easily do so if required (once they are available).

    Your company is definitely on the more restrictive end of the spectrum, but not wildly so.  It’s mostly the allowance for meal costs which is seriously out of whack.

    #221067 Reply
    Avatar MSooner 
    Participant
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 181
    Joined: 02/25/2016

    Looks very similar to how it is handled for residents/faculty attending conferences at my husband’s institution. You cant even book your own flight. Every expense must be documented in an app (previously receipt taped to paper and turned in). All expenses must be turned in within 48 hours of the trip ending or will not be reimbursed. Then you send it all into a black hole and start harassing them 2 months later when they still haven’t paid. That’s the best part as a resident…holding those $2k of expenses on a credit card or out of your savings. I think our record is 4 months. Wont miss it.

    #221069 Reply
    PhysicianOnFIRE PhysicianOnFIRE 
    Moderator
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1516
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    We switched over to CONCUR for CME reimbursement and it’s awful.

    It was so much easier when we could just turn in receipts to one secretary. Now every single physician has to act as the secretary and figure out this complex software that’s meant to do much more. If I used it daily or weekly, I’d probably get the hang of it, but when it’s something I do once or twice a year, it’s a huge pain. And I’m 10x more computer savvy than some of the older docs.

    Alcohol has never been allowed on our CME travel, so if I want to enjoy any with dinner, I need to ask for separate receipts. So, yeah… not exactly treated like an adult.

    40-something anesthesiologist and personal finance blogger @ https://physicianonfire.com [Part of the WCI Network] Find me on Twitter: @physicianonfire

    FIRE. Financial Independence. Retire Early.

    #221079 Reply
    Liked by billy
    wonka31 wonka31 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 605
    Joined: 03/24/2018

    We get x amount per year. We submit receipts for everything, other than meals (daily per down is the one outlined above by the government). Basically I have to submit receipts for the conference cost, airfare and hotel. I typically don’t rent a car. Your situation seems worse, but is t completely ridiculous imho.

    #221133 Reply

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