Year-end planning: flexible spending accounts
Just a reminder to everyone with flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to spend, spend, spend that money on or before 31 December! Don’t lose the money that was already taken out of your paycheck.
2011 saw a significant change to FSAs. If you normally use your FSA medical accounts to cover hospital and doctor bills, then there really isn’t much for you to think about. However, if you are someone like me, you used to use a portion of your FSAs to cover over-the-counter drugs too. In fact, that is how I would use any remaining balance in my account at the end of the year. Now OTCs are no longer eligible for reimbursement UNLESS you have a prescription to go along with it.
Now we all really have to plan ahead to use any unused funds– ’cause it is use-it-or-lose-it! Do you still have time to plan a dental appointment? Do you have any medical needs where you can contact your doctor now to schedule an appointment? Are your OTCs something that a doctor (legitimately) can write you a prescription?
This year I “lucked out” by having travel vaccines. I took a trip to Peru to see Machu Picchu, so I needed some vaccines that weren’t covered by my health care provider. This is the lesson I learned: because I went to a travel clinic instead of my regular doctor, it was considered “out of network” and that first round of vaccines weren’t covered by my insurance so I am now submitting an FSA claim. However, I scheduled my next rounds of vaccines through my regular doctor’s office, so those were covered by my regular insurance as preventative care. Am I glad I went to the travel clinic? Yes, because the nurse actually did all my travel med research for me and gave me info about what vaccines I needed to enter the country, which I should take because it was good medical practice, meds to bring, what to look out for, etc.
This extra expense covered the gap between my normal FSA expenditures and the amount I had left in my account. As I’ve lost money some years, I now make a point to use all my FSA and plan better for the next year.
Was all this extra effort worth it– vaccines and FSA paperwork? TOTALLY! I got to go on my dream trip and not have to worry:) [I’d post a picture but the blog software won’t upload it…grrr…]