DO YOU KNOW YOUR FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNT (FSA) NUMBERS?
If you haven’t checked your FSA balance recently, now may be the time to check your account. In 2018, the IRS raised the contribution limit from $2,600 in 2017 to $2,650 for 2018. FSAs are pretax monies that can save an employee up approximately 30% on their out of pocket medical expenses. Employees may use their FSA funds to cover certain qualified medical expenses that their employer’s plan does not cover, such as co-pays and deductibles. Other qualified medical expenses include contact lenses, eye exams, eyeglasses, crutches and hearing aids.
Different than a Health Savings Account, FSA’s must be used within the calendar year. In January of each year, employees must decide how many pretax monies are withheld in the form of payroll deductions. Employees must anticipate what they feel they will spend during that year that is not covered by insurance. Because many employees are concerned when judging what they may spend, they opt not to participate in FSA’s and actually leave money on the table.
Depending on your employer – they can offer employees two options to use it or lose it rule, or none at all. However, the employee must choose one of the two options. The carryover option allows an employee to transfer $500 of unused contributions from one plan year to the next. For example, if an employee has $500 of unused contributions in 2018, then he or she may carry those funds over into the 2019 plan year.
Second, with the grace period option, an employee has 2 1/2 months after the end of the plan year in which to use his or her unused contributions. For example, if an employee has unused contributions at the end of a plan year (December 31, 2018), then he or she must use those contributions by the following March 15, 2019, or risk forfeiting them.
The best solution is to know your balance and prepare to spend down those pretax dollars. Your best move is to do a good job of accurately estimating your healthcare and dependent care expenses for the year so that you don’t run into a situation where you’re struggling to deplete your account balance. But if your company offers one of the above protections, you’ll go in with less risk.
Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye care for the entire family. New designer frames, contact lenses, sunglasses, and protective eyewear are items that can be used to spend down your account.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.