Medical health plans come in many forms, including a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Employers offer this account to help their employees pay for eligible medical, dental, and vision care expenses that their healthcare plan may not cover. It gives the tax advantage of using pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified out-of-pocket expenses. As you budget this money throughout the year, remember that the use it or lose it rule applies to any money in the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HC FSA). FSA rollover does not exist. The money set aside must be forfeited at the end of the year, so be a wise shopper and protect yourself from the FSA use it or losing it.
Whenever your flexible spending account comes to its year-end, the money you have set aside disappears. So, in order to maximize the benefit of every plan, you should be proactive and think ahead as to what health or medical supplies you need. As with any plan, you should first check which items are FSA-approved.
The nine months of pregnancy can be the best time for a woman, but not necessarily for your bank account. Expecting mothers can expect to pay big bucks for items our bundles of joy require. That being said, the use of a breast pump can allow new moms much-needed sleep while dad feeds the baby. To minimize or avoid back pain, aches, and stresses during pregnancy, mommy can benefit from the use of a maternity support belt. If you are pregnant or planning to be soon, use those pre-tax dollars to prepare for the journey.
At the tail end of the summer/fall, allergies can bring about allergy-induced asthma and other respiratory issues. Many times, your doctor may prescribe an inhaled medication that can be administered in a fine mist. In order to do this, a nebulizer may be the best tool for the job. By using your FSA, you can minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Whether it’s for purchasing a compressor or just a new nebulizer mouthpiece, be sure to maximize your pre-tax savings. For those who have small children and the need for respiratory therapy, a nebulizer mask can make the task a little easier. Many people with respiratory issues require the use of an emergency inhaler. This crucial bit of respiratory medication can be troublesome for small children, so the use of a spacer/inhaler can remedy the situation. Remember you saved this money, so make sure you utilize it!
As we age or recover from an injury/illness, sometimes we need a little help getting around, such as crutches for a leg injury. This is a great use of your saved FSA dollars. Many times, mobility aids can be an out-of-pocket expense. Wheelchairs and cushions can be an expensive endeavor, but you saved this money, so feel free to maintain your independence. Transferring patients or loved ones with limited or no mobility can be dangerous to the caregiver as well as the patient, so using a patient lift can make transfers easier and safer. Mobility aids such as walkers, canes, and rollators allow our loved ones the freedom and independence of mobility. Those with even more limited mobility can benefit from a scooter to get around. Scooters may require a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) in order to qualify as an FSA-eligible item.
Flexible Spending Accounts do have some rules and regulations, as well as limitations as to how much money you can contribute to them. According to healthcare.gov, each employer can contribute $2600 per year to an FSA. If you are married, your spouse can also contribute $2600. While these funds can be used to pay deductibles and copayments, they cannot be used for insurance premiums. FSA funds can be used for prescription medications and over-the-counter medications with a doctor’s prescription, and reimbursements for insulin are eligible without a prescription. While it is generally accepted that any monies in an FSA must be spent within that plan year, your employer may offer one of two exceptions that are not required. A grace period of 2 ½ months may be provided, or a carryover of $500 to be used in the following year. Your employer can offer either one, but not both.
Smart healthcare consumers can utilize a Flexible Spending Account to maximize pre-tax dollars to pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses. The real smart consumer makes sure to use these dollars to their fullest by not allowing the extra money to be forfeited at the end of the plan year. Know what is eligible and maximize any pre-tax savings!!
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
In 2006, ...
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