Employees are realizing just how much money they have left in their flexible spending account (FSA) for this year.
Maybe you’re even in the same boat. And while everyone does have until March 30 to spend what they’ve socked away, the push is definitely on to use it, not lose it.
Which is why it’s the perfect time for Finance to pass along some of the best (and even unexpected) ways to burn up those flex spending dollars.
The folks at Employee Benefits News recently put out a list of smart FSA spending strategies. We’ve added a few and offered suggestions on the best ways to spread the word.
- Understand what’s covered. First and foremost, now’s a great time to re-issue the list of what counts as an FSA reimbursable expense (downloading IRS Publication 502 is a must). Chances are you have some perplexed employees — as much as 80% of adults admit they’re confused about what’s eligible.
- Put those New Year’s Resolutions to work. Employees have a chance to start off on the right foot and use those FSA dollars at the same time. Whether it’s quitting smoking or dropping some weight, all of those assistance programs count as eligible reimbursable expenses.
- Get prescriptions for OTC meds. It was a big blow to folks when over-the-counter medications were deemed no longer reimbursable. But if a doctor will write a prescription saying that employees needs TUMS, then that person can still use the flex spending account for it.
- Submit all the receipts. Don’t wait for spring for a little spring cleaning. Encourage employees Dig through wallets, purses, kitchen junk drawer to make sure they’ve submitted a receipt for everything they can.
- Stock up on supplies. From Band Aids to gauze to contact lenses, it’s the perfect time to replenish the linen closet and medicine cabinet.
- Get on the doc’s appointment book. Meaning to see that specialist? Haven’t had a skin cancer screen in years? Remind employees they can schedule those through the end of March and the co-pays will bring down those FSA balances.
- Get up-to-date on vaccines … even a flu shot. The flu peaks In January and February, so it’s certainly not too late. Plus, certain vaccines people have early in life do expire, so folks might want to check if they’re in need of a booster.
- Get the miles. They’re only chipping away at it 23.5 cents at a time (for July – Dec. 2011 – you get .5 cents less in 2012), but employees can be reimbursed for miles they drove to and from doctor’s appointments. You might suggest they calculate and submit those as well.
- Sunblock. This is a tricky one, but many plans will reimburse for sun protection over a certain SPF (30 is the usual threshold). (If a tropical vacation is on tap for this winter, prescription sunglasses also count.)
- DNA Drug Sensitivity Testing. Few know that the testing used to either personalize medicines or reduce adverse drug reactions and side effects is eligible. It’s worth sharing that with employees – you never know who could use it.