7 Smart Uses For Your Flex-Account Money
A flexible spending account offered through your employer is a great fringe benefit that lets you pay medical and child-care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
A flexible spending account offered through your employer is a great fringe benefit that lets you pay medical and child-care expenses with pre-tax dollars. Make sure you take full advantage of it when deciding how much to contribute -- because the amount you can set aside for health-care expenses is now limited to $2,500, a rule change from the health-care law that took effect in 2013. Another big change now permits some employers to allow employees to carry over $500 from one year to the next, although not all plans have made this change (see Big Changes to Flexible Spending Accounts).
We put together this slide show as a reminder of the kind of big-ticket expenses you can pay with medical flex-plan dollars and to encourage you to make the most of this benefit. If you’re unsure whether your employer’s plan covers a specific item, be sure to ask your plan administrator.
Always wanted the latest designer frames but were reluctant to pay the big bucks? You can use before-tax dollars from your FSA to cover the costs of quality frames, even if you don’t have a vision plan at work.
Full Body Scan
Have you been putting off a diagnostic check or screening? Body scan procedures are expensive, anywhere from $400 to $1,500. But if you can run the cost through your medical flex plan, it’s like getting a healthy discount of as much as 35%.
Braces can cost a bundle, for yourself or your kids. A flex plan can take a bite out of the financial pain.
Lasik and Laser Eye Surgery
The potential tax break may make it easier for you to see the benefit of a procedure that has been dropping in cost but still runs from $2,000 to $2,500.
The cost of a weight-loss program, if prescribed by your doctor to treat obesity, can qualify for reimbursement through a medical flex plan. You’ll need to submit evidence of medical necessity when you submit your bill for reimbursement. Summer camps for weight loss range from $600 to $1,000 a week.
Still trying to quit smoking? Uncle Sam will help pay the bills for hypnosis or another smoking-cessation program by letting you use pretax FSA cash. Amounts paid for nicotine gum and patches count, too.
When determining how much to set aside in your FSA, be sure to include the estimated cost of prescriptions you and members of your family are likely to need. (You can no longer use FSA money for non-prescription drugs except insulin.)
Sorry, you can’t run the cost of a face-lift, tummy tuck or breast augmentation through your FSA. But if you save enough by taking full advantage of your flex plan, well ...