How not to wait until December to use your FSA
Year after year I find myself waiting until approximately December 15 to spend my Flexible Spending Account (FSA). At times, I remember to use it to pay for co-pays at the doctor’s office or other medical bills, but it’s usually not top of mind. You too? Let’s change that this year.
So... what’s an FSA, you might ask?
In a nutshell, it’s sponsored by your employer (it’s offered as part of your benefits package) and it’s an account you put money into to pay for certain types of out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
Why do people like FSAs so much? The money you put into the account is pre-tax — so you never pay money on the healthcare costs that you put against your FSA. What’s good to know? Most employers have a “spend it or lose it” policy which forces employees to spend what’s in their FSA by December 31. Some employers extend this deadline until mid-March OR they let you carry over funds into the following year.
Check with Human Resources. Just don’t confuse your FSA with an HSA — that’s a different beast! Give this article a read for a comparison of the two.
Now, back to what your FSA can cover.
We rounded up a few resources to make the process a bit clearer and called out some of the items/services we’re particularly excited to see included.
- The FSA Store (yes, that exists) lists items that are FSA-eligible — and notes which require a prescription and which do not.
- No prescription needed: Sunscreen, lip balm, heating pads, first aid kit supplies, shoe inserts.
- Get a prescription first: Acne treatments, children’s cold medications, sleep aids, allergy meds, Midol.
- Creative ways to spend your FSA money. Think: eyeglasses/contacts, acupuncture, condoms, etc.
- CNBC poses some helpful considerations as you look to spend your FSA. Need a medical procedure? Haven’t been to the dentist in a while? These are good opportunities to use it!