Some plans require participants to spend FSA funds before the end of the plan year or risk losing the funds altogether; others allow carryover to the next plan year. If uncertain of your plan’s requirements, check with your benefits administrator.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are a popular employer-sponsored benefit. According to a 2015 survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in 5 Americans are in a family with an FSA for medical expenses. FSAs can be used for a wide range of eligible expenses for account holders and qualified dependents, helping individuals reduce the cost of healthcare for them and their families.
However, one caveat to FSAs is the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule. If your employer’s plan does not allow for carryover, you must spend the remaining balance by the end of the plan year or lose the funds altogether.
In 2016, participants were able to set aside $2,550 pretax in order to help offset the cost of healthcare and receive a tax break. As this year nears its end, there’s still some time to make the most of your money.
Here are nine ways to spend your FSA dollars before the end of the plan year:
Is quitting smoking part of your new year’s resolution? Get a head start! Smoking cessation programs and over-the-counter medicines are eligible medical expenses. Learn more at www.tobacco-cessation.org/resources/programs.
Visit the Dentist
You can use your FSA funds to help with the cost of co-pays for a dentist visit. Plus, if you or a dependent need orthodontics such as braces or other treatments, these are covered too.
Make a Doctor’s Appointment
Do you need to see the doctor? Have you been putting off a visit? Doctor co-pays and deductibles are on the list of eligible medical expenses, as are the cost of laboratory fees.
Get Your Flu Shot
The CDC says flu season can begin as early as October and it peaks between December and March. It takes about two weeks for a person’s immune system to respond to the vaccine, so it is prime time to protect yourself against this year’s strands of flu virus. Learn more about the flu shot.
Fill Your Prescriptions
If you received a new prescription from your physician, or it’s time to refill current ones, use your FSA funds to pay for them.
Take Care of Your Eyes!
Eye care is important. You can pay for eye exams, eye surgery (such as Lasik and laser eye treatments), eyeglasses and contacts. Prescription sunglasses and over-the-counter reading glasses are also on the list of eligible medical expenses.
Stock Up on First Aid Supplies
One can never be too prepared, right? You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit, or first aid supplies like bandages (including liquid bandages), wound cleansers, nasal spray, thermometers, and wraps for knees, wrists and backs, among other supplies. Visit your local drug store or shop online to purchase what you need.
Get Diabetes Supplies, Including Insulin
Good news for people with diabetes: supplies like insulin, syringes, glucose monitors, glucose tablets, test strips, and sharps containers can be covered by FSAs.
Baby Care Items
Babies need a lot of love and attention. Help care for your bundle of joy with saline nasal sprays, gas and colic relief supplies, thermometers, nasal bulbs, and baby movement monitors.
These are just a handful of ways to help you make the most of the funds set aside in your FSA account. Check your account balance today.
Did you know that the IRS raised FSA contribution limits for 2017? Find out more.