Here’s my annual reminder to use up your Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts before the end of the year. First, here are some possible exceptions:
- Some plans allow a grace period until March 15th of the following year as opposed to a December 31st deadline to use your 2016 funds, but it may only apply to claims and not late purchases. Check with your employer.
- Some plans allow participants to carry over up to $500 in unused FSA funds into next year. Check with your employer.
What are FSA-eligible expenses? Here are the large, well-organized lists:
- Common Eligible Health Care Expenses by PayFlex, an affiliate of Aetna.
- Detailed Expenses Guide for FSA Benefits [PDF] Conexis a a large FSA administrator.
Quick tip. Since 2011, certain over-the-counter (OTC) items such as cough medicines, pain relievers, acid controllers, and diaper rash ointment now require a prescription for reimbursement. In addition to the written prescription for the OTC medicine, you should obtain a detailed receipt that includes the following:
- Date of service or purchase
- Name or description of the item
- Amount of purchase
Last-minute FSA-eligible items. If you didn’t exhaust your funds with insurance copays or deductibles, here are eligible items that you can still buy over-the-counter without a prescription. Examples included are the best-sellers in each category at Amazon.
- Eye care (prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, contact lenses, solution, drops). Ex. Opti-Free Contact Lens Solution
- First aid supplies (bandages, gauze, tape) for emergency kits. Ex. Band-Aid Brand Variety Pack, 280 Count
- Wheelchairs, walkers, & canes. Ex. Drive Medical Four Wheel Rollator Walker
- Family planning products (condoms, birth control, pregnancy tests). Ex. Trojan Condom ENZ Lubricated, 36 Count
- Home testing aids (blood pressure, diabetes, thermometers). Ex. Omron 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
- Sunscreen and sunblock (SPF 15+). Ex. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45
- Defibrillators (AEDs). Ex. Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator (AED)
Finally, only your FSA administrator can provide you with the exact guidelines for reimbursement according to your plan. I learned this the hard way when our FSA administrator switched one year from in-house to Conexis. Wow, Conexis was a pain in the butt. So many hurdles and rejections without good explanations. I had to submit some claims three times before finally getting approved. If you count the time wasted, I probably lost money by participating in the FSA at all. The other employees in the company must have also complained so much that the very next year, FSA reimbursement was again managed in-house.