Why You Need an FSA

What is an FSA and What Does it Do for Me?

With an FSA You Get the Following Benefits:

  • With an FSA, you elect to have your annual contribution (up to the $2,750 limit set by the IRS) deducted from your paycheck each pay period, in equal installments throughout the year, until you reach the yearly maximum you have specified.
  • The amount of your pay that goes into an FSA will not count as taxable income so that you will have immediate tax savings.
  • A Healthcare FSA allows reimbursement of qualifying out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  • A Limited Purpose Medical FSA works with a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP) and Health Savings Account (HSA). A limited FSA only allows reimbursement for vision and dental expenses.
  • A Dependent Care FSA allows reimbursement of dependent care expenses, such as daycare) incurred by eligible dependents.
  • Enjoy significant tax savings with pre-tax deductible contributions and tax-free reimbursements for qualified plan expenses.
  • Quickly and easily access funds using the prepaid benefits card at the point of sale, or request to have funds directly deposited to your bank account via online or mobile app.
  • Reduce filing hassles and paperwork by using your prepaid benefits card.
  • Enjoy secure access to accounts using a convenient Consumer Portal available 24/7/365.
  • Manage your FSA “on the go” with an easy-to-use mobile app.
  • File claims easily online (when required) and lets the system determine approval based on eligibility and availability of funds.
  • Stay up to date on balances and action required with automated email alert and convenient portal and mobile home page messages.
  • Get one-click answers to benefits questions. Use it or Roll It Over. And now, up to $500 of your available healthcare Flexible Spending Account balance can be carried over into the next plan year instead.
  • FSA dollars can be used during the plan year to pay for qualified expenses and services, and a way to pay for expenses with pre-tax dollars.

With the use-it-or-lose-it rule and benefit limits, many employees (and some employers) wonder if the tax savings provided by a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Dependent Care Plan (DCAP) are worth the risks and hassles.

To show how an FSA and DCAP can provide significant tax savings for your employees, let’s consider the example of Joe Workman, an employee of ABC Company. With doctor’s visits, dental exams, and the annual cost of glasses and an eye exam for his son, Joe usually has about $2,600 in expenses that are eligible under an FSA. Joe and his wife, Beth, both work and have work-related child care expenses of $1,500 per month ($18,000 per year). Below are two scenarios, showing Joe’s net pay after these expenses both with and without an FSA and DCAP:

Joe Workman – Without an FSA or DCAP  

With an FSA/DCAP  

Annual Income $50,000 $50,000

Pre-Tax FSA Election $0 $2,750

Pre-Tax DCAP Election $0 $5,000

Taxable Income $50,000 $42,400

Annual Taxes $7,273 $5,552

After-Tax Income $42,727 $36,848

Out-of-Pocket Medical, Dental, Vision Rx $2,600 

Work-Related Childcare $18,000 $13,000

Net Pay After Taxes and Expenses $22,127  $23,848 

With an FSA and DCAP for his expected expenses, Joe is “giving himself a raise” of over $1,700 a year!

Joe’s company saves on Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes with Joe’s elections as well:

Joe Workman – Without an FSA or DCAP  

With $2,750 FSA/DCAP  

Annual Income $50,000 $50,000

Taxable Income $50,000 $42,400

Annual FICA and FUTA $3,867 / $3,286 

With Joe’s FSA and DCAP alone, his company saves over $500 a year in employment costs!

Handling the Risk of Use It or Lose It

Despite these potential savings, many employees (and employers) still don’t want to deal with the potential risks associated with FSAs. As you probably know, participants have to use their FSA election within the plan year towards eligible expenses; any unused funds forfeited to the plan—this is the infamous use-it-or-lose-it.

Employers have options available that can lessen this risk for employees and make the FSA a more attractive option:

  • Grace Period: The grace period provision allows up to 75 days following the end of the plan year, during which participants can use their remaining balance from the ended plan year for new expenses. In an extreme case, this provision would allow a participant who used none of their FSA accounts during the actual plan year to use the entire election on expenses during the grace period. 
  • $500 Rollover: Since 2014, employers have had the option to add the $500 rollover to their FSA, which allows employees to “roll” up to $500 of an unused FSA balance from one plan year to another. This rolled amount becomes part of the new year balance and is available at any point during the new plan year.

NOTE – the $500 Rollover option is only available to the Health FSA benefit (not DCAP), and a Health FSA can only have the $500 Rollover OR the grace period option, but not both.

  • Participant Education: Most employees are highly unaware of all the potential uses an FSA has. Using resources such as a list of ordinary eligible expenses or sites like FSA Store can help educate your participants and ensure they use the maximum amount of their FSA possible.

5 New Expenses Now Eligible For Your HSA & FSA Funds

When you participate in a Health Savings Account (HSA) and/or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you’re able to contribute pre-tax funds for use on hundreds of eligible expenses. Recently, you gained even more flexibility in your ability to save when the CARES Act was signed into law.
This new legislation expanded the list of expenses that are considered eligible by including popular over-the-counter products, which consumers can now purchase with their HSA or FSA without a prescription. This change went into effect on January 1, 2020, and allows over 20,000 new expenses as eligible moving forward. That’s great news for consumers, since the average American shops for over-the-counter medications 26 times each year.

Here are five of the most common expenses that are now eligible to use HSA and FSA funds without a prescription.

  • Pain relief medications
    Headaches. Muscle soreness. Sprains. There are so many reasons to need pain relievers. There are two common types of over-the-counter pain medications: acetaminophen and nonsteroidaln anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), both of which are now among the eligible expenses.
  • Cold and flu products
    Winter may be behind us, but cold and flu season never really goes away. As much as 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, on average each season. Fortunately, the over-the-counter medicines taken to cope with a severe cough or congestion are now eligible expenses.
  • Allergy products
    Thirty percent of American adults and 40 percent of children suffer from allergies. And the cost of allergies to the healthcare system is estimated at $18 billion. Those who do have allergies can now find relief with their HSA and FSA funds in the form of over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants.
  • Heartburn medications
    Heartburn is among the more common afflictions in this country. That’s why Americans spend billions of dollars each year on medicines that treat heartburn. The CARES Act means that these over-the-counter drugs are HSA and FSA eligible without a prescription.
  • Menstrual products
    The CARES Act also included menstrual care products as eligible expenses for HSAs and FSAs. Eligible products include tampons, pads and menstrual sponges.
Client Review - Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce

“HR Service, Inc. has been a tremendous help to the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce. They have given us excellent advice that has enabled us to avoid problems with our personnel and to make excellent hires and motivate our employees.  With their guidance, our employees are not just putting in a day’s work; they are committed to serving the members.  They have a passion and are excited about the Chamber and its mission to help businesses grow and prosper. HR Service has provided far more value than we ever anticipated.  A small business needs an HR Service to keep in compliance with the legal requirements. But HR can also help you make great hires, train, and motivate people to excel.”

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