5 ways to use your flex spending account before the end of the year

This article is Sponsored by Schwartz Laser Eye Center.

Many people have end-of-year traditions, such as, making resolutions, checking out Christmas lighting displays or making an annual holiday treat. If you participate in a flexible spending account, one of your year-end traditions should involve making sure you have a plan to use all the money set aside in your account.

Prior to 2013, FSA funds you contributed were lost if you did not spend them on qualifying medical expenses before the end of the plan year. Beginning in 2014, the government amended the program so FSA plans could allow participants to carry over up to $500 of unused funds at the end of the plan year, or to have a 10-week grace period to spend remaining funds, reports the Society for Human Resource Management.

It is worth noting, however, plans are not required to provide these options so many FSA participants still risk losing money they contribute if they do not spend all of it in a plan year.

If you participate in an FSA plan and you have not used all of the money in your account, here are some suggestions for spending those funds before the end of the year.

Invest in eye care

One of the best ways to use remaining FSA funds is for eye care services and equipment. Because vision care is often not covered by traditional medical insurance, many people put off having routine eye care or elective services. Eye exams, eye surgery or procedures, glasses, contacts and more are all eligible expenses. Even Lasik is approved. If you have questions about whether your eye care needs are qualified expenses, contact an eye care professional experienced in dealing with FSA expenses.

Visit the dentist

Like eye care, people often lack dental insurance or the insurance they have carries high deductibles. Money remaining in an FSA account can be used for many dental services like exams, cleanings, fillings, crowns, dentures and more, according to bankrate.com. Teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not covered.

Schedule routine exams and services

If it has been awhile since your last physical, routine exams are permitted FSA expenses. It’s a great time to go to the dermatologist to have moles removed or to visit the podiatrist to get custom orthotics for your feet. Mammograms, cholesterol tests, vaccinations, flu shots and prescriptions are all covered. If there is a medical issue you’ve been delaying, chances are you can use your FSA funds to pay for it.

Buy needed medical equipment

FSA regulations allow spending for medical supplies and devices such as blood pressure monitors, CPAP supplies, oxygen equipment, canes, crutches and wheelchairs, etc., according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Even condoms and bandages are allowable expenses.

Enroll in a program

FSA funds can be used for smoking cessation treatment or even for weight loss programs when approved by a doctor. Sign up before the end of the year and you can pay for three months in advance, according to Carrie Kirby in an article for wisebread.com.

Review your medical expenses

Before you worry about spending leftover money, it is a good idea to review your expenditures and reimbursements to make certain you’ve claimed all your eligible expenses. You should be able to get a detailed list of reimbursements from your FSA administrator.

While the majority of FSA plans operate on a calendar year, some are on a fiscal year that might not end in December. If you are uncertain about when your plan year expires, contact your FSA administrator. No matter your specific plan year, this is a great time to review your medical situation and to make certain you don’t end up with unspent money in your FSA account.

About Dr.Schwartz

As a leading eye care professional in the Scottsdale and Glendale areas, Dr. Schwartz is arguably the most prolific refractive surgeon in the valley. Having performed over 38,000 LASIK surgeries and being the first ophthalmologist in Arizona certified to perform the Kamra Inlay procedure, it is not hard to see why professional athletes and Arizona residents have trusted the Schwartz Laser Eye Center since 2001.