Using Your Flex Spending Account Before You Lose It

NEW ORLEANS – If you have a medical flexible spending account (FSA) you don’t want to let that money go to waste before the new year. In most cases, if you don’t use the money by Dec. 31, you will lose it. Tabatha George, an associate at the Fisher & Phillips New Orleans law office said you should check your benefits and deadline.

         “Some plans allow you to carryover up to $500 to the following plan year,” she said. “This is a new option provided by the IRS last year. If you have some money left in your account, and aren’t sure whether funds can be carried over, call your Human Resources Department to find out.”

         If your company doesn’t allow you to carryover amounts, you still may have some extra time to use your money. George, who specializes in employee benefits, including retirement, welfare plans and healthcare reform, said the IRS allows employers to give employees until March 15 of the following year to make eligible medical expenditures and pay for them with account money.

         George said FSA funds are most commonly used to pay insurance copays or for exams that are not covered by your medical insurance and recommends using the remainder of your FSA fund on a vision exam, a new pair of glasses or a full dental check-up.

          “FSA cash also can be used for alternative treatments that aren't typically covered by medical insurance,” she said, “such as acupuncture, chiropractic sessions or massages.”

          “Beyond copays and deductibles, FSAs can be used to purchase prescription and limited over-the-counter drugs such as insulin,” George said. “FSAs can also be used for medical supplies including bandages and contact-lens solution, or even blood-sugar and blood-pressure test kits.”

         George said FSA funds can also go towards wellness and preventative exams and flu shots.


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