On average, workers who do not use the full balance of their flexible spending accounts (FSAs) collectively forfeit an estimated $400 million every year. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Jessica Roy suggests 11 ways to spend remaining FSA funds before they expire.
According to Roy, the maximum amount an individual could contribute to an FSA in 2021 was $2,750. Typically, FSA balances expire at the end of the year—and a person can only roll over a small portion of their remaining balance to the following year. Currently, the legal limit is $550, but some plans have a lower limit.
However, after many people were forced to skip or delay health care visits during the pandemic, Congress changed the rules for 2020 and 2021 so employees at participating organizations can move over the entirety of their balance to 2022. However, this is not an option for everyone. Roy suggests contacting a benefits provider or human resources department to find out whether your workplace is participating.
For those people who do need to use up their FSA funds by the end of the year—and do not have any upcoming medical expenditures before the year wraps up—Roy provides several ways to "use up your FSA balance," including buying:
1. Covid-19 supplies: For example, masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, thermometers, pulse oximeters, at-home Covid-19 tests. Roy recommends stocking up on these items ahead of the holiday season.
2. First-aid kits: People should have one first-aid kit for their home and another for their car, Roy writes. And for those who already have first-aid kits, Roy recommends using FSA funds to purchase extra supplies such as bandages and ointment.
3. Eye care items: Eye exams (both in-person and online), prescription glasses, contact lenses, contact lens solution, eye drops, and lens wipes are all FSA-eligible items. According to Roy, sites like Warby Parker and See Eyewear will let you use your FSA to pay for new contacts or eyeglasses.
4. Menstrual supplies: Pads, tampons, and other period products were recently made FSA-eligible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. If you are feeling generous, Roy writes, you could even use your FSA balance to buy supplies and donate them to an organization that helps people in need.
5. Family-planning items: For example, condoms and emergency contraception both qualify for FSA spending.
6. Over-the-counter medications and monitoring equipment: For example, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, certain vitamins and supplements, antacids, pain relief gels and pads, and other OTC treatments all qualify, Roy writes. In addition, people can purchase blood pressure monitors and a lot of diabetes supplies.
7. Baby, pregnancy, and postpartum supplies: For example, according to Roy, people can purchase different types of breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies, postpartum care items, and even some "optional" baby supplies.
8. Sunscreen and skin care: According to Roy, you can purchase many acne treatments, eczema creams, and even sunscreen with your FSA.
9. Massagers: "If you've been eyeing a massaging wand, device or car seat, this is your chance," writes Roy.
10. Mobility aids: For example, canes, transport chairs, and wheelchairs are all FSA-eligible.
11. Home drug tests and smoking cessation aids: If you want to live a healthier life in 2022, Roy writes, you can purchase these items with your FSA balance. (Roy, Los Angeles Times, 12/3)
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