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6 Shopping Tips for Your Flexible Spending Account

The clock’s ticking on your flexible spending account (FSA). While many reach zero on this fund well before year end, others find themselves reaching for reasons to spend any remaining surplus. Plan now to get every cent out of the money you set aside for medical expenses.

Remember, FSA dollars are subject to the IRS “use it or lose it” rule – which means any money remaining is forfeited by you and won’t carry over to the next year. Some plans extend the qualifying expense deadline into March, so check your dates.

The good news is you have a multitude of options. While you’re probably aware of the most common uses of FSA funds (copays, prescription medications, dental services, eyeglasses) there are many eligible products and services. Go to your plan’s website for full list of qualifying, potentially qualifying and non-qualifying items.

Maximizing Your Flexible Spending Account

  1. Stock up. Request three-month prescriptions for medications you take regularly. Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and even aspirin may be eligible if they are prescribed by your care provider as part of your treatment plan.
  2. Catch up on healthcare. Get that qualifying cancer screening, immunization, body scan or eye exam.
  3. Self-improve. Consider signing up for a smoking cessation program, getting Lasik vision correction, contact lenses or an updated pair of glasses, or straightening your smile with orthodontics.
  4. Invest in equipment. Several options may qualify, including thermometers, crutches, diabetic supplies, humidifiers and blood pressure monitoring devices.
  5. Shop online. Got to to purchase FSA eligible items. Top sellers here include bandages and wrist braces. Bundles of family essentials and travel-size sunscreen are also featured.
  6. Check for the unexpected. You might be surprised at what’s on the list of qualifying expenses. Some of the more uncommon options include lice treatment, vasectomy reversal, Braille books and mastectomy-related bras.

Many retailers will be able to separate FSA-eligible items and non-FSA eligible items within a purchase. When in doubt, check your organization’s FSA plan. And be sure to save every receipt as you may be required to justify an expense. Keep in mind that these transactions can be reviewed for up to three years.

Bob Grenier, Pharm.D.
Bob Grenier, Pharm.D.

Bob Grenier, PharmD, is a Retail Pharmacy Manager at CHI Health.

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