insurance

Lesser-Known Ways to Spend Your Health FSA Funds by March 15

If your employer plan still allows a grace period for 2014 spending, you can use the money on chiropractor visits, knee braces, acne medication or other health costs.

Do I need to spend the money in my flexible-spending account by March 15? And I know I can use the money for my deductible, but what else can I use it for?

Many employers changed their flexible-spending account rules to let you carry over $500 from one year to the next rather than giving you until March 15 to use all of the money in the account from the previous year. But some employers still offer the March 15 grace period. (Employers can't offer both the $500 carryover and the March 15 grace period.) In that case, you don't have much time to spend down the money remaining in your account from 2014 before it disappears.

You can use FSA money to pay for your deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket medical expenses. You can also use it for medical expenses that may not be covered by your insurance, such as vision and dental care or visits to a chiropractor. You could spend down the money in your account by buying glasses or prescription sunglasses, or by stocking up on contact lenses and lens solution. You can also use the money for any portion of the cost of prescription drugs that isn't covered by insurance.

You can even use the money for some expenses that don't require a doctor's prescription, such as knee and ankle braces, thermometers, first-aid kits, vaporizers, bandages, breast pumps, blood pressure monitors, hearing aid batteries, heating pads, certain hot and cold packs, prenatal vitamins and some sunscreens, says Jeremy Miller, president of FSAStore.com, which sells FSA-eligible products.

If you have a doctor's prescription, you can use FSA money for acne treatments, allergy medicine, nicotine gum and patches, pain relievers, cold medicine and several other expenses, Miller says. See Eligible OTC Expenses for lists of products that do and do not require a doctor's prescription to be eligible for FSA payouts.

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