Published on September 20, 2022

Don’t Forget To Use Your Flex Dollars

calculator, stethescope, meds on paperwork

During the last few months of the year you should move one thing to the top of your to-do list: Make use of your flexible spending account (FSA) money.

Otherwise, you’ll lose it in the new year. It can be used to help cover procedures you’ve been putting off, glasses or a number of other medical items.

“Most people do put their FSA funds to use, but we do see a few people who miss out on a few hundred here or there,” said Elizabeth Slack, FSA Manager with Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE.

Here’s what you need to know.

Health Savings vs. Flexible Spending Accounts

Slack also manages health savings accounts (HSA) for both insurance companies and explained the key difference between the two types.

“HSA funds, which can be used for health expenses or retirement savings, roll over year-to-year. They offer incentives for tax deductions, but you must enroll in a high-deductible health plan to have a health saving account. Flex spending is, generally speaking, use-or-lose money,” she said.

There are some options to roll-over part of your flex dollars into the new year. This depends on your plan and your employer if you have insurance through work.

Considerations For Year’s End

Insured individuals who have adult children on their health insurance can use flex funds to cover costs of medical necessities for them, even if they are no longer claimed on income tax.

“Some people will stock up on CPAP supplies this time of year as well, as they can be expensive and fit under the eligibility guidelines,” she said. “Contacts, glasses and hearing aid batteries are items people may overlook. Blood-pressure machines are another useful device, and a popular choice for many people is the purchase of a humidifier.”

Flex enrolled employees who have adult children (regardless of if they are on their health insurance) can use flex funds to cover costs of medical necessities for them, as long as they are claimed as a tax dependent. Slack often suggests this to those who have surplus flex spending.

Check Before You Plan to Use Flex Dollars

Slack said there can be some exceptions and methods to make the most of your money.

Letters of medical necessity from a health care provider allow expenses such as baby formula to fit flex spending. Talk to your doctor to find methods to spend the money you have in your account before the deadline.

“Some forms of counseling also fall into eligibility, and some treatments such as acupuncture can as well, even if your health insurance coverage does not pay for them,” Slack said.

You Can Use it for Medical Mileage

Using the money for medical mileage is another possible approach that people may overlook.

“People do forget they can claim this cost and get reimbursed right away, rather than waiting to deduct it on their annual income tax return. You can do one or the other, but not both,” she said.

Complete guidelines for other flex-spending ideas are easily available and can help make sure you maximize your coverage.

Log in to your member portal for specific details about your benefits.

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