As the end of the year approaches, many health care Flexible Saving Account (FSA) participants scramble to use up their remaining balances before their plan year ends and the dreaded “use-it-or-lose-it” rule sets in. This panic can be particularly painful if participants elected far more than they ended up spending throughout the year.
What many FSA participants may not realize is the wide range of expenses that qualify for FSA reimbursement and the many ways they can use these funds. Below are some suggestions on how to avoid forfeiting FSA funds at the end of a plan year and fully maximize the benefit of an FSA.
FSA Eligible Expenses
- Prescriptions for Over-the-Counter Medications: While it is true that many OTC products are ineligible for FSA reimbursement, one simple method to change a product’s eligibility is a prescription from a doctor. Need to take aspirin for a heart condition? Ibuprofen for chronic pain? A certain vitamin because of a deficiency? Aloe Vera for a severe burn? Get a prescribing note from a doctor and that ineligible item becomes reimbursable. Do note that such products usually must be submitted as manual claims, as a benefits card will probably not accept these expenses.
- Other Doctor-Ordered Treatments: Many treatments become eligible for FSA reimbursement when accompanied by a doctor’s orders (in a Letter of Medical Necessity for the treatment, mitigation, prevention, or management of a disease, injury, or other medical condition). These expenses can include, but are not limited to: massage therapy, a gym membership, snoring aids, genetic testing, weight-loss and addiction recovery programs, as well as alternative medicines and therapies. (Participants will want to research their specific expenses before submitting for reimbursement).
- Acupuncture and Chiropractic Expenses: Unlike massage therapy, both acupuncture therapy and chiropractic treatments are FSA-eligible without the need of a doctor’s prescription or letter. Again, a benefits debit card may not recognize these expenses as eligible, so a manual claim may be necessary.
- First-Aid Kits and Other First-Aid Expenses: A whole range of first-aid items are FSA-eligible, and usually can be purchased at a pharmacy, major retailer (Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.). These can include: bandages, first aid tape, antiseptic gels and sprays, braces and wraps, burn ointments, gauze, thermometers, heating pads, ice packs, etc. In addition, multiple first aid kits for the home, vehicles, RVs, boats, and other uses can be purchased with FSA funds.
- Family Planning: Many expenses associated with family planning can be purchased with an FSA, including pregnancy tests and various forms of birth control.
- Service Animal Expenses: Individuals who need a service animal for visual, hearing, or other physical disabilities may have the costs associated with the animal, including food and grooming, reimbursed from an FSA.
- Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Products that are SPF 15 or greater, such as sunscreens and certain types of lip balm, are FSA eligible.
- Vision Expenses: While most know that an eye exam and glasses are FSA-eligible, many do not realize that many more vision-related expenses are as well, including: eye drops, reading glasses, sunglasses (doctor prescribed), contact lenses, contact lens solutions and cases, bifocals, and even corrective laser eye surgery (LASIK, PRK, etc.).
- Mental Health Therapy and Counseling: when provided from a licensed office or by a licensed practitioner, the costs associated with therapy and counseling sessions can be reimbursed from an FSA.
- Shoe Insoles and Inserts: Podiatric items – for example: shoe inserts, arch braces, or treatments for blisters (like moleskin) – are eligible for FSA reimbursement without a doctor’s prescription or direction.
These examples are only a small sampling of potential reimbursements. This link provides additional Various Eligible Expenses. The benefit experts at HR Service and their sister company B3PA can provide you with even more information about what is possible with an FSA. For answers to your questions or to begin setting up an FSA benefit with us, contact us at (833) 685-8400 x 1 or Solutions@hrserviceinc.com. You can also visit us online at www.HRServiceInc.com
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