Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are very common. Many employees take advantage of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) offered by their employer. A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) allows employees to set aside a portion of earnings as pre-tax contributions to the account. These funds can be used to provide coverage for reimbursement of qualified medical expenses, which includes vision care (eye exams, office visits, co-pays, eyewear frames and lenses, contact lenses, and even LASIK).
One of the most common sayings associated with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is “use it or lose it”. That's because, prior to the healthcare reform and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, any funds remaining in the account after year end were forfeited by the employee. However, now employers have the option to give employees a 2 ½ month (until March 15) grace period to carry over up to $500.00 without losing the funds. Employer policies vary, and grace periods are optional – companies can offer it or not. It is important to remember, you could lose your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) money if you don't spend it by December 31. Be sure to ask your human resources department and find out the policy adopted by your employer. As a rule of thumb, if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) it is a good idea to exhaust the funds in the account by December 31 of each year.
As year end approaches, it is a good time to be sure that everyone in the family has had an annual eye exam. This includes all children in the household. Vision screenings at the pediatrician's office or at school are not substitutes for a comprehensive eye exam. Take inventory of your glasses and sunglasses. Most of us could use an extra pair of glasses. Think about updating glasses to the most current prescription. How about a pair of computer or office glasses with lenses specifically designed for the workplace to relieve neck or back pain; or eliminate the frustration of finding the “sweet spot” in our lenses when we're using the computer? And who can't use another pair of sunglasses? There are so many lens colors to choose from, and each lens color exists for a specific use. What about an extra pair of glasses as a holiday gift to yourself? Or maybe its time to seriously consider LASIK.
It really is that time of the year to think “going, going, gone” when it comes to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). So don't put off scheduling those eye exams or shopping for glasses. Keep in mind, if you wait until the last minute you may have to settle for an eye exam with an eye doctor just because they happen to have an opening. Besides, wouldn't you wonder why they have an opening and the eye doctor you really want to see has a full schedule? Something to think about. The same is true when it comes to shopping for glasses. Using flex dollars is a great time to purchase quality frames and lenses. Not only will they last longer, they are more comfortable and more enjoyable to wear. Or purchase contact lenses and so you're ready for ski season. Or even have that LASIK procedure you've been wanting for so long.
Think of flex season as a time to do something nice for yourself. After all, what's the alternative? To see those Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars vanish at the end of the year? So don't procrastinate. Pick up the phone and schedule eye exams for the family. Shop for glasses and sunglasses. Call and schedule a LASIK screening. Keep in mind, when it comes to flex dollars an actual purchase must be made. This means you must be able to provide a detailed receipt of your purchase. Flex dollars cannot be used as a deposit or payment toward a future purchase.
As they say, time is running out. Tick tock...December 31st is right around the corner.