Have you already started fretting over the year-end conundrum of “Gotta use it or I will lose it”??? Are you losing sleep over the dilemma of "How do I spend my leftover FSA money"? Every year you plan the FSA dollar amount based on probabilities of a certain number of sick visits to the doctors for family, broken frames replacements especially if you have little ones who use eyeglasses, maybe even account for a possible root canal for a cavity that keeps coming back bigger every time. Then Murphy’s Law kicks in. Just because you had planned for it, the good health fairy is generous to your family and you never make those extra visits to the doctors, there are no fluke accidents resulting in broken eyeglasses. And you have the best dental health year you have had in years! All that is truly wonderful, except now all the money you thought you would be saving in taxes, is actually going to become more money that you will be losing because you never used your FSA dollars.
IRS rules about Flexible Spending Account states that all the money left in the FSA account is forfeited after the plan year ends or after the run-out period (extra time to submit reimbursement receipts of expenses made during the plan period). So if you have a big chunk of money still sitting in that FSA account, you just have a few weeks left in the year to spend your FSA money before it disappears...poof! But that is not fair! Especially when there are so many FSA eligible products you could definitely use, which this pretax money can buy for you now before it is lost in the black hole of unspent FSA dollars.
Here are 8 ways of spending your health care FSA funds that you probably never thought of:
Bloody knees and scraped elbows are the souvenirs of a happy, healthy, and playful childhood. You never know when you will run out of that box of band-aid. Most frustrating is when none of the sizes of band-aid you have at home are the right fit for that scraped knee or elbow. You make a dash for the store and raise eyebrows on what that bigger patch of band-aid costs but now do the math again taking off 30% of the cost! That is what it will cost you when you submit that receipt for reimbursement from your FSA account. And when it comes to wound care, having a ready stock of bandages of all sizes and non-adhesive gauze dressings can never hurt. Especially when you are using the leftover FSA dollars that you could lose otherwise.
Have you ever dealt with the leaky frustration of icing an injury with a Ziploc full of ice, or the hassle of boiling water and using a cloth soaked in it for heat therapy? With all the varieties of cold packs, hot packs, and the combination of hot and cold packs, available in the stores that come in casings that can be wrapped around a body part for hands-free pain relief you should really never have to deal with that leaky Ziploc bag. Especially when these FSA-eligible hot and cold packs will cost you 1/3 less than the actual price when you spend FSA dollars on it.
Did you know that your FSA dollars cover not just you but your children up to the age of 26 and your elderly parents? They don’t actually have to be on your health insurance for you to buy the FSA-approved products for them. So if mom has been eyeing that pretty looking cane to replace the old dusty one she uses right now, surprise her by adding that to her gifts this holiday season. Not just canes, but walkers and other such mobility aids are also FSA-eligible items.
Before you start shaking that head questioning my knowledge of this FSA business, give me a chance to be more specific. It sure would have been wonderful if FSA covered baby diapers for when you had little ones but it did not and it still does not. However, diapers used by adults to help with incontinence issues are covered by FSA. So you may never have thought the opportunity would come but it has. For all the times your parents have bought diapers for you, you can now return the favor by buying them some FSA eligible adult diapers (if they use them). A variety of incontinence products like underpads, liners, protective underwear, etc. can be bought with FSA money.
You may be flat-footed, a pronator, or suffering from one of those chronic foot issues like Plantar Fasciitis or a heel spur. All of these can find relief with custom-made orthotics but you always put that off because, yes we hear you, they cost a whole lot!! If you realized that you had a whole wad full of bills that you are losing in a few months but it could buy you those much-needed custom orthotics for your sore feet, would you not be a truly happy pair of feet oops I meant truly happy person? All orthotics and insoles are FSA approved.
Everyone knows how important it is to have a first aid emergency kit handy at all times in your car and in your home in an easily accessible place. Yes, you can shop for supplies individually and assemble them in a box but how many of us have the time to do the due diligence, not just for one kit but for multiple ones. Pre-packaged first aid kits are a lifesaver especially because they always have the extra bells and whistles that you would have probably not thought about had you been putting a kit together yourself. Leftover FSA funds are well spent on such travel first aid emergency kits as well as family first aid emergency kits.
Ever feel like your blood pressure wasn’t quite right but there was no way of checking it? So you get yourself to the doctor’s office at the first chance you get but his machine shows all is well!! There is a chance your pressure was low or high when you first felt it but normalized by the time you got to the doctors. Would it not be wonderful to check it for yourself when you feel off? Especially now that you have the extra FSA money to spend, this is truly a luxury you can afford. Not just to measure your blood pressure at home but to check your glucose levels before and after meals. Let’s save the trip to the doctors for when we really need them! A whole range of easy-to-use FSA items like blood pressure monitors and glucose monitors are easily available these days.
As much as your teenager is excited about the smile makeover he or she will get post-dental braces, I can guarantee your feelings are not quite at par. Not a million but that smile will cost a fortune and so you can find some respite with this bit of information I am sharing with you. Your FSA dollars cover the cost of braces or any other orthodontic procedure you require after what has been covered by your dental insurance. Caring for braces requires gadgets like a dental water jet which is also covered as an FSA eligible expense.
There is no reason why even a penny of that FSA money should go to waste. Don’t just take my word for it, pull up your plan, and browse through the list of FSA eligible items. You will be surprised how easy it is to spend every bit of that tax-free money on something you would totally use.
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While all the products mentioned above are FSA-eligible, this article does not take responsibility for the employer-specific restrictions that your plan may have. It is recommended to check your plan and confirm before purchasing any of the suggested products.
Gazala lives in New Jersey with her three boys and a loving husband. In her past life she was an Engineer in the field of Electronics and Communications. She took a sabbatical from work for a little over a ...
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