Making the Most of Your Flex Spending Account
Flex spending accounts (FSA) save people money. Approximately 37 million employees in the U.S. currently have FSAs, and the number is steadily rising. From handling co-pays to having an exclusive shop to purchase FSA-eligible products in FSA Store, there are many benefits to signing up.
**Go to FSA Store for all eligible products. **Once upon a time, people had to shop around to see where they could purchase FSA-eligible products. Then came Jeremy Miller, a Columbia Business School student with an idea. That idea was to create a store that exclusively sold FSA-eligible products, eliminating the guesswork involved in hitting several different drugstores to see which products were covered by flex spending accounts. With all the benefits associated to having an FSA—funds exempt from income taxes and payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare—there is another in knowing about FSAStore.com:
Consumers will find FSA-eligible items that don’t require a doctor’s prescription as well as products that do require a doctor’s prescription. More than 4,000 items are available, from nicotine patches and first aid kits to acne treatments and even sunscreen. There is such an extensive selection that FSA users can knock out shopping for over-the-counter products in one punch, stacking up for the year and saving up to 40 percent in the process. Plus, free shipping is always available on orders over $50. For other savings, use FSA Store coupons.
As the deadline looms closer, FSA Store provides a comforting presence where you can shop for only eligible products, and the website keeps you up-to-date on new health reforms, news and information on FSA service providers. So, it’s more than just a convenient one-stop shop for everything FSA.
They cover copays. If you routinely visit the doctor or dentist’s office, there is always that copay you have to worry about. With an FSA, the money set aside can also go toward paying for a visit. Over the course of a year—if you go to the doctor’s, say, three to four times—you can save the accumulated costs of those repeated visits, and they also cover deductibles and coinsurance payments. FSAs will take care of those costs you feel reluctantly obliged to pay.
They save you on taxes. In 2013, Health Care Reform made it so that a maximum of $2,500 could be set aside for individuals. These funds are taken from pre-tax wages, effectively reducing your income taxes. By decreasing your taxable income and increasing your spendable income, you could save hundreds, and possibly thousands, each year.
But, you may be wondering, what happens if I don’t spend the allotted amount before the deadline—Dec. 31. The IRS recently made a change to the Use-It-or-Lose-It provision which formerly took away all unspent funds in the previous year. Now, you can retain up to $500 from the previous term or be granted a two-and-a-half-month grace period in which you can use unspent funds. As a consequence, it’s easier to get the most out of your FSA before it expires.
They cover vision and dental, among other medical services. Vision care and dental care fall under the umbrella of FSA plans. Say you would like undergo Lasik eye surgery and you’re working out the financial details. Money from your flex spending account can go toward paying for Lasik, as well as an array of other eye care services and products, such as eye exams, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.
To illustrate the extent to which flex spending accounts cover nearly every healthcare need, you could even use those allotted pre-tax wages to pay for hypnosis if you’re trying to quit smoking. As well, one can pay for other smoking-cessation programs and products like nicotine patches and gum. If the company providing your FSA requires you to sit at a desk for hours at a time, chiropractic services are also covered. There are innumerable other medical services and health-related costs that are eligible to under FSA spending, including dental, so do your research to make your sure specific condition is covered to avoid irreversible spending mistakes.
Flex spending account enrollment typically happens once a year, generally from mid-November to mid-December. If a cafeteria plan sounds right for you in accordance with your spending habits, it’s advised that you visit FSA Store for more information. Not only do they have the most comprehensive sources of FSA-eligible products online, they also assist the newcomer with learning resources and other information on how to make the most of your FSA.