December can be hectic, but there’s one task you can’t overlook. If you have a FSA (medical flexible spending account), be sure to check your deadline and its balance.
Flexible spending accounts allow those who get health benefits at their jobs to set aside wages for health care expenses during the year. The money isn’t taxed when it goes into the account or when it’s spent on qualified medical expenses and you can also use it to pay for items and services that aren’t covered by your health insurance.
But, there’s one drawback: if you don’t use the money by the deadline, you’ll lose it. For most, the deadline is December 31 but in some cases, the year-end deadline isn’t firm. That’s because the IRS allows employers to give FSA owners until March 15 of the following year to make and pay for eligible medical expenditures. But keep in mind that the grace period is optional and companies can offer it or not. So, be sure to check with your benefits office to confirm your spending deadline – you earned that money so make sure you don’t end up wasting it!
The most common uses for your FSA are to pay insurance copays and exams that aren’t covered under your insurance: a general medical check-up, wellness exam, eye exam (or extra pair of glasses), dental check-up, teeth cleaning appointments and preventative procedures (i.e. flu shot). Also consider cleaning out your medicine cabinet and stocking up on items such as a blood pressure monitor, ear infection monitor, first-aid kits, bandages and other medical supplies. While you’re at it, check out this FSA store and get some ideas on what to spend your remaining money on!