Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are a great way for individuals to pay qualified medical and dental expenses using pre-tax dollars. While IRS rules do allow employers to offer either a carryover or grace period option for money left over in flexible spending accounts, many employer FSA plans still have provisions that don't allow for funds contributed to an FSA to carry over from one plan year to the next. In other words, if you don't use it, you lose it. If you find that you still have money left over in your FSA as the end of the year approaches, there are a number of ways to spend down your account balance.
FSA funds can be used to pay for a variety of out-of-pocket health-care expenses, such as deductibles and copayments. You can also use your FSA funds to pay for uncovered dental and vision care expenses. So now might be a good time to schedule any medical and dental appointments that you may have been putting off, stock up on contact lenses, or even replace an old pair of eyeglasses.
FSA funds can also be used to pay for both prescription drugs and many over-the-counter products, including:
- Athletic braces and supports
- First-aid kits
- Blood-pressure monitors
- Shoe insoles and inserts
Keep in mind that certain over-the-counter medicines (e.g., pain relievers and allergy medication) require a doctor's prescription in order for you to obtain reimbursement from your FSA.
If you continue to participate in your employer's FSA, remember to choose your contribution amount carefully so that you don't risk losing any contributions going forward. Many FSA plan administrators offer user-friendly websites that allow you to inquire about eligible expenses and keep track of your FSA purchases and account balances throughout the plan year.