I remember when we were growing up, it would get to the end of the year and my mom would have us make a mad dash to get new glasses or contact lenses or hit up the doctor. We had to because the money on our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) was going to disappear at right at the end of the calendar year and we didn’t want to lose it.
I really had no idea what it was or what the big deal was until I had to start paying my own health benefits. It was then that I realized that some consumers (me included) did not realize that different benefit plan options exist for them/me. One of those options is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – an employer-sponsored benefit add-on that allows employees to set aside pre-tax money for qualified health expenses. While it might not seem like a ton, pre-tax money sort of seems like a little bonus, especially because I know we’re going to spend it all in a year.
An FSA lets you cover health care expenses not covered by traditional insurance plans. Before opting in to an FSA during open enrollment, you should first estimate how much you will contribute to the FSA. Starting with plans in 2013, the annual contribution limit into a Health Care FSA is $2,500 per person.
Many FSA plan years have a December 31 deadline, but some employers offer coverage extensions through a 2 ½ month grace period. For those with a grace period, one upcoming deadline is March 15. If you haven’t maxed out your FSA for 2012, you might be within that grace period so you could scoop up some extra health care items and count them towards last year. (Check with your provider to see if you have this grace period. Don’t lose money you’ve earned and had set aside).
Eligible Products with an FSA:
- Blood pressure monitors
- Breast Pumps and other baby care
- Hot and cold packs
- First aid kits
- Shoe inserts
- Contact lens solution
A great resource for those with FSAs is FSAstore.com – a site exclusively selling thousands of FSA-eligible products and answering FSA-related questions through an online Learning Center. For more information on FSAs, or help with figuring out how much to contribute and which FSA eligible expenses qualify, visit FSAstore.com.
*Links and information provided by FSAstore.com. All thoughts are 100% my own. Please consult with your plan before making any decisions.