Flexible Spending Account Ideas: Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

My daunting task for today is to tally up my FSA receipts. I’ve been rather lazy and haven’t sent in any reimbursement requests at all. I have a manila folder stuffed with prescription medicine receipts, eyeglass receipts, doctor bills, dentist bills, you name it. I have this fuzzy total in my head that says we’re very close to the $500 we allotted for the account, but I need to make sure so we don’t waste any money.

For those of you who signed up for a Flex Spending Account but haven’t use it all yet, now would be a good time to do last-minute planning. It’s not too late to get a vision exam, eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, or even some dental work to charge off on the plan. Other ideas for using it up include:

» Get advance refills on prescriptions if possible
» Stock up on over-the-counter drugs (’tis flu season)
» Flu shots, out-of-date vaccines like Tetanus
» Contact lense solution
» First-aid supplies like bandages, heat wraps, Neosporin
» Condoms and other birth control items
» Dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, herbals, and botanicals, are covered when used to treat a current illness, but not when used for general health purposes.

Less common ideas that may not apply to all plans:

» Reimbursed for mileage to and from hospital/doctor office
» Massage, acupuncture, and other alternative medicines
» Sunscreen, herb teas, certain skin care products

Drugstore.com even has a special FSA Store with more ideas and products to buy. It’s a very good resource for more ideas – and a very smart move on their part!

Also, check up on the final date allowed on your specific plan. If yours is like mine and ends on 12/31, make sure that you have a receipt dated in 2005. Other plans may allow you to spend your money up until March of next year.

Comments

  1. If you have a CVS frequent-buyer card, you can get a summary of what CVS thinks is eligeable FSA expenses for the calendar year at http://www.cvs.com/flex

    Other pharmacies may have similar programs.

    This way you can make sure you haven’t missed any expenses.

  2. Vitamins are not technically covered under flex spending (unless prescribed by a doctor to address a specific health issue). I’ve gotten reimbursed for them sometimes and other times have been denied on them.

  3. Fortunately our company gives you a “credit card ” with your preset amount of how much you will put into your FSA account. So now we just use the card to pay for the items. No more paper work to fill out and be reimbursed. We have actually done good this year and only have about $10 left in ours. The one I look forward to next year is the dependant care account for our daughter.

  4. This one of the things I don’t like about FSA.Unless you can really spend most of it as allotted, what is the point? I found it asinine that if there are a few dollars left in the account, one simply loses it as opposed to just collecting it back at the end of the year. Then you have to submit paperwork to get your money back. In the meantime, who earns the interest on the pre-tax money deducted each month? Not me!

    It is terribly insulting that politicians dictate what I can do with my money. On the other hand, I guess an FSA for medical uses and daycare is an implicit acknowledgement that my money has more purchasing power before taxes.(Hey, maybe just cut taxes?)

    I only spend money on dental cleanings, and have no need to buy a pair of eyeglasses every year. I only recently bought new eyeglasses after five years, and then that was because I could opt into an eyecare plan that felt like I could come out ahead. I did not use an FSA.

    Having to waste an FSA on eyeglasses because the money is there because someone else will get it does not seem all that frugal to me, but to each his own.

    This Bankrate.com article indicated a change in plans by extending the time at the end of the year, but still, the core issue remains. Is the money I earn mine, or some community income for some ignorant millionaire politicians to dictate how it is to be spent?
    http://www.bankrate.com/brm/itax/news/20001129a.asp

  5. Love it. Very convenient charge card, extension till March next year, but I’m on track to using up my funds as it is.

    It has really made me take advantage of all regular exams and care which I tend to neglect. The funds come out of each pay check, lowering my tax and used efficiently throughout the year.

  6. Thanks for the post.

  7. Pat Crenshaw says:

    Two points:

    1) the “very convenient charge card” depends on the administrator. My company uses Wells Fargo, which is run by a bunch of idiots. Every single prescription drug purchase (coded as “Pharmacy”) generates a strongly worded letter requiring me to send in the receipt to verify the charge. (they usually wait 4-6 weeks before asking for it, just so I have time to lose it).

    2) The Guessing Game required by this legislation is absolutely insane! “Well John Doe, what will your medical costs be next year?”. Gee, I planning on having a heart attack in June, and I think I’ll put off that car accident until next February.

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