1. Health

Use Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) $ Now

By November 18, 2009

If you set up a flexible spending account with your employer in 2009, now is the time to review whether you have spent the money that you set aside. A flexible spending account (FSA) is an employer-sponsored benefit that you set up at the beginning of each year for spending on health care needs using pre-tax dollars.

Useful for some, flexible spending accounts may be moot for people who spent 2009 unemployed and for those who did not have extra dollars to divert to an FSA. FSAs are not available to those on Medicare.

FSAs allow you to purchase items that can be extremely costly when paid for out-of-pocket:

  • Continence and toileting supplies, including adult diapers
  • Fees for hospital services, long-term care services, accident and health, and qualified long-term care insurance premiums, nursing services, laboratory fees, prescription medicines, and insulin
  • Medical equipment (walkers, shower curtains, wheelchairs, etc.)
  • Gloves, first aid supplies, bandages, etc.

If you are still running short on spending your FSA allowance, consider adding these items:

  • Hand sanitizer. Because of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, this is now an allowable expense.
  • Cold and flu medication
  • Contact lenses, eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries.
  • Sunscreen

Keep in mind that these benefits usually do not roll over. In some instances, an employer will allow you to carry your benefits forward, but you should check with your employer as soon as possible.

Have people found having that an FSA helps them manage their health care expenses?

November 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm
(1) Norman says:

I read the Wall Street Journal editorial page every day. They told me the whole purpose of flexible savings accounts was to give medical consumers a stake in the game, show them how expensive their treatment was, and encourage them to shop wisely, and not waste money on unneeded treatment the way they do when somebody else is paying for it.

If at the end of the year you have an incentive to buy things indiscriminately with use-it-or-lose-it dollars, doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of medical savings accounts?

November 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm
(2) Norman says:

I want to get a renal artery angioplasty. I don’t need one, but hey, I’m not paying for it.

November 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm
(3) Norman says:

I know. I’ll stock up on medical marijuana.

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