Did you contribute to an FSA this year? If so, now is the time to check the balance and use the funds before they expire. If you didn’t contribute in 2018, read on to see if an FSA would be a good match for your family in the New Year!
What Is an FSA?
You may already be aware that saving with an online piggy-bank, like SmartyPig can really help you meet your financial goals. However, a flexible spending account (FSA) is pretax money earmarked for health-related expenses not covered by insurance. Generally, the ideal contribution amount covers your medical deductible. In 2018, the maximum contribution increased $50 to $2,650 per year. If you’re married, your spouse can set aside the same amount with their employer. You may both use these funds to cover medical expenses for yourself and your dependents.
It is important to note, funds must be used within the year the money is contributed. Some plans include a 2.5-month grace period or a rollover option for small balances, so be sure to check with your employer. Here are a few simple ways to make the best use of your FSA funds before the end of the year.
The Doctor Is In
The first step is to schedule wellness exams and preventative procedures with doctors you haven’t seen in the past calendar year. FSA-eligible appointments that may not be top of mind include acupuncture and chiropractic sessions, drug abuse and mental health counseling, and hearing tests.
Be sure to use your FSA credit or debit card when settling your copay or coinsurance. Don’t forget that travel expenses to and from your doctor appointments, including mileage, tolls, bus and subway fares are also eligible expenses!
In addition to your yearly physical and regular dental cleanings, an annual vision exam is important.
Chew on This
The average cost of teeth cleaning, dental exam, and x-rays is close to $200. This may seem expensive but skipping regular cleanings can cost you down the line when root canals bridges and crowns can cost more than $1,000. Your FSA plan should cover all diagnostic or preventative measures that prevent dental disease, including sealants, fillings, crowns, bonding, extractions, and dentures.
I Can See Clearly Now
Eye exams cost between $50 to $100 but are invaluable when it comes to correcting vision and preventing eye diseases. Eye doctors can identify early stages of high blood pressure, stroke risk, and diabetes.
Laser eye correction surgery is an FSA-eligible expense. However, new eyeglasses, replacement lenses, and contacts are more popular options. If you have extra funds in your account, consider prescription sunglasses as well! In addition to your ophthalmologist’s office, there are economical ways to shop for frames & lenses online that offer the convenience of trying frames at home and the flexibility of easy returns.
Stock Up on Supplies
This is a great time to dispose of expired medications and refill all available prescription medications. Next, get ready for the New Year by organizing and refilling your first aid kit. A wide array of products are FSA-eligible including first-aid ointment and bandages, thermometers, eye care, denture care, hearing aid batteries, various medical monitoring and testing devices, pregnancy and fertility tests along with breast pumps and accessories, shoe insoles, heating pads and hot/cold packs, joint braces, walking aids and wheelchairs and even sunscreen!
Generally, changes to FSA plans take place during the open enrollment period, but some employers allow adjustment when a major life event occurs.
To decide the right amount to contribute in the New Year and maximize your investment, spend time examining how you used FSA funds throughout the year and how much you had to do at the last minute. If you are planning any significant medical expenses such as surgery or welcoming a new child, you may want to increase your contribution. Now congratulate yourself on being a healthy and savvy saver!