Finance Friday

Finance Friday: Flexible Spending Accounts, Are They Worth It?

Source: Flickr By RambergMediaImages

Source: Flickr By RambergMediaImages

This past Winter was a difficult one for most Americans. News reports broadcast daily the spread of influenza that had many around the country suffering and ill. Unfortunately, my house was facing something similar. Everyone in my house was sick but me, and having to be the care-taker was seriously taking a toll on me emotionally. At last, we finally found a reprieve and the doctor gave out meds that seemed to cure exactly what was ailing them.

To make matters worse, in December my daughter was rushed by ambulance to the hospital because the nurse practitioner stated she wasn’t getting enough oxygen to breath. I was both scared and confused because while I knew she was suffering from what appeared to be the flu but at the same time she was talking and playing and overall seemed alright.

At that time the thought entered my mind that any emergency room visit would have a hefty price tag regardless of how good our health  insurance really was. We paid for the visit and my daughter was diagnosed and we were given a prescription, which didn’t work. It seemed to take forever for my husband and daughter to acquire the correct medication after numerous ineffective ones were prescribed. All of the co-pays and visits added up to thousands of dollars, which could have been stressful on top of the situation. Thankfully, my husband had set aside a good amount for us to use through his Flexible Spending Account and so instead of being hit with one huge monstrous bill at once, it was like we had been putting the money aside all year long and we were now able to reap the pre-tax benefits.

Do I recommend have a Flexible Spending Account?

Yes, the amount you put aside is pre-taxed and will be determined by the health of you and the others in your family. The more health conditions the more you will need to put aside. Keep in mind however that if you don’t use all of the money, you will not get it back at the end of the year. It is a use it or lose it type of deal.

What will a Flexible Spending Account cover?

The FSA covers co-pays, over the counter medications, prescription medicines, medical items, and other items that are FSA eligible. Some of the items include:

  1. Eye glasses and exams / includes prescription sunglasses
  2. Contact lenses and solutions
  3. Lasik and other eye surgeries
  4. Doctors visits
  5. Lab fees
  6. Dental fees including teeth grinding prevention devices
  7. Acupuncture
  8. Breast Pump
  9. Breastfeeding Class
  10. Midwife, Doula, or birthing coach
  11. Fertility treatments
  12. Pregnancy tests
  13. Contraceptives
  14. Hearing aids and batteries
  15. Medical Record Charges
  16. Nasal sprays
  17. Hydrogen Peroxide
  18. Acne treatments
  19. Cough Drops
  20. Special school (for mental and physical disabilities)
  21. A school or class for a physician diagnosed medical treatment
  22. Sunscreen with SPF 15+ and “broad spectrum”, sunburn creams and ointments (over-the-counter)
  23. Click here for a complete list of eligible expenses.

* (These items are typically covered by an FSA but you should check your specific plan just to confirm whether or not these items are eligible.)

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