The end of the year is fast approaching. If you’re like me and lose track of how quickly time flies, you may have forgotten to use all your health benefits before the year wraps, including flexible spending accounts. Because of its “use it or lose it” policy that allows only $500 to rollover to next year, many of us with flexible spending accounts, or FSAs, scramble at the last minute to use up our funds.
FSAs are funds that can be used to pay for medical and dental expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. Many businesses allow their employees to contribute a portion of their paycheck into an FSA before taxes are taken out. Families use FSAs toward copays for doctor appointments, bills for emergency room visits and prescription drugs at the pharmacy.
If you’ve been fortunate this year to not worry about exorbitant medical bills, there are many medical-related items and services that you can apply your FSA toward. Here are a few examples:
Blood pressure monitor
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recently changed the guidelines for high blood pressure. Anyone with blood pressure higher than 130/80 is now considered to have hypertension. Use your FSA to purchase your own blood pressure monitor, which allows you to check your BP daily in the comfort of your own home. You’ll also be doing your heart a favor.
Prescription eyewear is eligible for FSA reimbursement. This includes eyeglasses, safety glasses and sunglasses. You can also use your fund toward contact lens, as well as items for maintenance and care such as contact solutions and cases. Lastly, reading glasses also qualify for reimbursement.
Over-the-counter medicines (prescription)
Some over-the-counter medicines and drugs require a prescription from your doctor, in order for you to receive reimbursement. These items include pain relieving creams, cold medicines, laxatives, pain relievers and diaper rash ointment. Obtain a prescription before you shop and be sure to include it with your reimbursement request.
Over-the-counter medicines (non-prescription)
There are other over-the-counter items that do not require a prescription from your doctor. Visit your local drug store and use your FSA to stock up your medicine cabinet with bandages, elastic wraps, denture adhesives and insulin. If you’re in the giving spirit this holiday season and you don’t need $500 worth of non-prescription items, consider purchasing a stash of items and donating it to a local shelter.
If you’re unable to book that last minute appointment with your doctor before Dec. 31, there are several ways to spend your FSA. Talk to your employer or insurance representative to determine what other items or services are eligible. Remember, the money that you stashed away will disappear at the end of the year, so don’t let it go to waste.