Hello all, and welcome to inaugural edition of FSA Fridays!
Our goal for this weekly column is simple -- to help educate our readers by curating and sharing the most relevant industry news, regulatory updates, and eligibility information related to your flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
At FSAstore, we work to demystify the confusion around FSAs, and want to help you by delivering the information you want, but may have missed over the course of a busy week.
(And, because I'm a part of FSAstore.com's panel of experts, I'll probably have some things to say, as well.)
I hope you find these links helpful, and see this column as a starting point for a bigger conversation about all-things FSA. We'd love to hear from you on social media -- be sure to drop us a line on our Facebook and Twitter pages!
1. Employers can 'do better' with wellness - Employee Benefit News - 11/15/17
Employers should take a comprehensive and personalized approach to wellness, and take steps to improve company culture, which in turn will create more engaged and happier employees.
2. Alegeus Opens Marketplace for HSA and FSA Spending - PlanSponsor - 11/9/17
The portal for eligible products and services will help employees make smarter purchase decisions and understand what can be paid for with health savings account and health care flexible spending account savings.
3. The Senate GOP tax bill keeps the medical expense tax deduction - Washington Post - 11/13/17
The medical expense deduction helps millions of middle income older Americans to offset high out-of-pocket health care costs.
4. Six numbers that could bust your health-care budget next year - CNBC.com - 11/7/17
We're in the thick of open enrollment season — that time of year when workers select their health insurance plans and other employee benefits for 2018 — so keep an eye on these six numbers when you enroll.
Nerd Wallet/USA Today recently posted an article mentioning 10 smart moves, including a section on using FSAstore.com for end-of-year FSA expenses.
As the end of year approaches, so does an important deadline for many Flexible Spending Account (FSA) holders. It's the December 31 FSA spending deadline. This day marks the final opportunity for many to spend their remaining FSA dollars for the year.
Not everyone has this deadline, and if you're not sure when your deadline is, it's good to ask your FSA administrator or Human Resources department.
If you have the December 31 FSA deadline, now is a good time to review your account.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Track your remaining expenses. When was the last time you checked your FSA account balance? Do you know how much money is left in the account? See how much money you have left and can use for medical visits (eye exams and dental exams qualify, too) and for products.
Get necessary FSA eligibleproducts for the fall and winter. Have you restocked your medicine cabinet? Do you have necessary seasonal healthcare products on hand or in the car? Are you traveling for the holidays? Plan ahead and use your Flexible Spending Account for items such as contact lenses (and contact lens accessories) or prescription glasses - an eye exam is also FSA eligible. Planning an outdoor fall hike or another adventure? Get a first aid kit! Use hot and cold therapy packs to treat sore muscles, but also treat headaches and eye puffiness.
Schedule medical visits. Haven't had a yearly eye exam or dental checkup? Want to visit a different medical specialist? Make use of your FSA before the end of year. Use an FSA for co-pays, and deductibles!
Submit your claims. Have any outstanding claims to submit for FSA reimbursement?You still have time to submit these to the FSA administrator.A good rule is to submit FSA-related claims immediately followinga purchase or after a medical visit, so you can monitor expenses.
Read the full articlewith all of the money tips from NerdWallet viaUSA Today:http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/10/09/atm-fees-emergency-savings-money-moves/91324870/
FSAstore.com was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in New York City by Crain's New York Business. Learn more about this news on our blog!
FSAstore.com was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in New York City. Crain’s New York Business launched the recognition program nine years ago, and today, it is a joint effort of Crain’s New York Business and Best Companies Group.
This survey and awards program identifies, recognizes and honors the best employers in New York City, benefiting the city’s economy, workforce and businesses.This year’s list is comprised of 100 organizations.
An alphabetical listing of the 100 organizations named as Best Places to Work in New York City, appeared on Crain’s New York Business’ website, crainsnewyork.com, on September 28th.
Crain’s New York Business will report, publish and promote the numerical rankings online at crainsnewyork.com on Friday, December 2nd and in Crain’s New York Business’ print edition on Monday, December 5th. The data was supplied by contracted independent research firm Best Companies Group, which is responsible for the entire registration and survey process, analysis of the data and final rankings. Crain’s New York Business only reports on the results of the data provided by Best Companies Group.
Organizations making the list will be honored at a celebratory luncheon on December 2nd where the final rankings will be unveiled.
To be considered for participation, companies had to meet the following eligibility requirements:
-Be a for-profit business or not-for-profit organization
-Be a publicly or privately-held business
-Have a facility in New York City
-Have a minimum of 25 full-time or part-time employees working in New York City (Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and/or Queens)
-Be in business a minimum of 1 year
Companies from across all five boroughs participated in the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in New York City. The first part (25% of the ranking) consisted of evaluating each nominated organization’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographics. The second part (75% of the ranking) involved an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.
For more information on the Best Places to Work in New York City program, visit www.BestPlacesToWorkNYC.com.
For more than 25 years, Crain’s New York Business has been the award-winning news source for New York’s business leaders, telling the story of the New York economy, while serving as a voice and advocate for the city’s business community. Reporting through the prism of business, Crain’s helps its readers stay on top of the inner workings of New York’s economic and political ecosystem, by uncovering new business opportunities and creating connections with the broader New York business community at our events, online, in print and through our newsletters.
Best Companies Group (BCG) is dedicated to establishing “Best Places to Work,” “Best Companies” and “Best Employers” programs to identify and recognize workplaces that nurture a superior level of employee satisfaction and engagement. BCG researches the dynamics and characteristics of employers in numerous geographic regions and industries, both nationally and internationally, and then produces annual “Best” lists of the organizations that are leading the way in defining the employee experience of the 21st century
While your Flexible Spending Account can keep you healthy in many ways, a healthy diet with fall superfoods goes a long way. Learn about them on the blog.
How are superfoods relevant to overall health?
Keeping you in good health is our top priority at FSAstore.com, and using your flexible spending account (FSA) can be a key part of it.
Here are 10 nutritious fall superfoods:
When it comes to apples, many people get excited about fall apple picking with friends and family. Right now is the perfect time to start planning your fall apple picking outing. Apples are a great source of fiber and vitamin C. Something important to remember is to make sure you eat the skin since nearly all of the nutrients are found here!
Cauliflower is a great addition to a diet, whether you steam it or eat it raw on a veggie platter. This vegetable contains vitamin C/K and beta carotene, and sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has a proven ability to kill cancer stem cells, and slowing tumor growth.
One of the easiest-to-cook vegetables is butternut squash, which can be great roasted or pureed. Butternut squash is a great source of vitamin A/C, potassium, fiber, folate and magnesium.
Sweet potatoes are a tasty addition to any meal. Not only that, but they're a welcome source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can ward off free radicals that can damage cells and speed the signs of aging. Similar to butternut squash, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A, as well as dietary fiber, potassium, niacin, riboflavin and more.
Whether you're making cranberry sauce or baking using cranberries this fall or ahead of Thanksgiving, cranberries are a staple among people's fall meal planning. These low-calorie fruits are packed with antioxidants, as well as dietary fiber, vitamin C and manganese.
Fall is soup season, and leeks can instantly boost any soup, stuffing or casserole. Leeks are one of the best sources of vitamin K available. In addition to vitamin K, leeks also contain various other vitamins/minerals including manganese, copper, folate, as well as iron and vitamin C.
As part of a salad or other dishes, fennel can add a lot of flavor. The flowering plant has a distinct flavor, hits its peak in the fall months and is also a ready source of protein, fiber and potassium.
Grapes are perfect as a salad topper, jams or a quick snack. They have the additional perk of being low-calorie snacks, and may contain trace amounts of fiber, calcium and potassium.
Brussels Sprouts hit their flavor peak in fall, and can be a quick, easy and nutritious side dish for weekday meals or big get-togethers. These vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, as they contain a huge variety of vitamins/minerals, including vitamin C/K, folate, manganese, as well as fiber, vitamin B1/B6, copper, potassium, phosphorus and much more.
You'll be seeing plenty of pumpkins popping up as fall gets underway.Gourds often don't get enough credit for their culinary potential and nutritional value. Pumpkins are a good source of beta-carotene, as well as C/E, potassium, riboflavin, copper and manganese. Always opt for fresh pumpkin over canned, as fresh pumpkin is more nutrient-dense and free of preservatives.
Stay on top of your health by using your Flexible Spending Account for everyday products and medical services! Shop and learn more at FSAstore.com!
What does 2016 have in store for consumer-directed healthcare accounts? Each year, the IRS releases information about these accounts.
What does 2016 have in store for consumer-directed healthcare accounts? And, what exactly are these accounts? Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its long-awaited consumer-directed healthcare account changes. The IRS provides an update as to whether these accounts will have different contribution limits or if there are other plan changes. Whether you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), these accounts are typically adjusted for inflation annually with a series of changes for the coming year.
Beloware the current regulations of each of these accounts. Learn more about the most popular consumer-directed healthcare accounts:
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) (Medical)
Changes for 2016: None
Contribution Limits: $2,550 per FSA account.
Note: If anindividual and his/her spouse each have his/her own FSA, they could be setting aside $5,100 as a household.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Changes for 2016: No change in individual contribution limit, +$100 for families
High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) Maximum Out-of-Pocket Amounts: Individuals +$100 and +$200 for families
Contribution Limits (Employer + Employee): Individuals - $3,350, Married Couples Filing Jointly - $6,750
HSA Catch-Up Contributions (age 55 or older)*: $1,000
HDHP Minimum Deductibles: Individuals - $1,300, Family: $2,600
HDHP Maximum Out-of-Pocket Deductibles: Individual - $6,550, Family: $13,100
Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs)
Changes for 2016: No Changes
Contribution Limits: No Limit, Controlled by Employer
Limited Care Flexible Spending Accounts (LCFSAs)
Changes for 2016: No changes
Contribution Limits: $2,550 per FSA account. If individual and spouse each have their own FSA, could be $5,100 as a household.
For HSA-compatible LCFSA, can only be used for eligible non-medical vision or dental expenses throughout the plan year.
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSAs)
Changes for 2016: No changes
Contribution Limits: $5,000 per household, or $2,500 if married and filing separately.
As 2016 kicks off, be sure to meet with your benefits administrator to stay on top of your healthcare benefits, and spend your hard-earned dollars at FSAstore.com! If you'd like to learn more about FSAs, HSAs or HRAs, browse our comprehensive Eligibility List or Learning Center for answers to popular questions and to see details about eligible expenses.We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to help you support the health and wellness of you and your dependents year-round.
The New York Times recently mentioned FSA Store in an article regarding tax savings opportunities for consumers.
The New York Times recently mentionedFSA Store in an article regarding tax savings opportunities for consumers. In the article, Ann Carrns discusses available opportunities during open enrollment to inquire about FSAs,and provides important information for FSA accountholders to keep in mind - including about covered expenses.
According to Carrns, "The accounts help you pay for costs that insurance doesn’t cover, like plan deductibles and co-payments, as well as a host of other items, including prescription drugs and medical equipment. FSAstore.com has a list of eligible items."
Read the fullNYTimes articlefor more details on Flexible SpendingAccounts.
The NY Daily News recently shared finance tips via Douglas Boneparth, the chief operating officer of New York-based financial services firm Life and Wealth Planning. In the article, Boneparth offers advice about starting the year off right by handling finances in 2015, which also includes a part about Flexible Spending Accounts - and a mention to FSAstore.com for FSA-eligible items!
Read more in Boneparth's fullarticle.
Starting Over in 2015
Many FSAs had a big year-end deadline on December 31, and for many people their FSA year just started on January 1.
Does this apply to you, too?
Get to know your FSA (what expenses are covered - ranging from products to eligible medical services) and plan ahead for 2015 by learning more in our post on Preparing for 2015 with a Flexible Spending Account.
Spending Down Your 2014 Flexible Spending Account
Kiplinger Kimberly Lankford recently mentioned FSAstore.com in her article about spending down a 2014 Flexible Spending Account. Lankford discusses an important change implemented in 2013 to Flexible Spending Accounts that could affect the deadlines of these plans.
Did the law change so I don’t need to worry about spending down my flexible spending account by the end of the year?"
Find out the answer to the question in the Kiplinger article and check out what you can buy with your Flexible Spending Account.
By Jeremy Miller, Founder and President, FSAstore.com
Open enrollment can be a stressful time for both employees and benefits professionals. With an abundance of information to digest about available health plan options, spending accounts, and supplemental benefits, employees are often overwhelmed and confused because they lack the knowledge and understanding of the available options. Spending accounts continue to garner significant interest and questions from employees during open enrollment. And for good reason: with these tax-advantaged accounts, which includes flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs), employees can save big when they make contributions and use the funds for qualified expenses.
New Rules for (Some) Flexible Spending Accounts
FSAstore.com was recently mentioned in an article by Kiplinger.com's Kim Lankford. In the article, Lankford discusses changes to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and explains what options consumers with an FSA might have (depending on their plans).
"I heard that employers can now let people roll over $500 in their medical flexible spending accounts to the next year, rather than lose it all at the end of the year. Do all plans let you do this?"
To discover the answer, read more of the articlehere.
FSAstore.com Reminds Consumers: June 30th Deadline Approaching to Use Flexible Spending Account Dollars
Save on Thousands of Products such as Sunscreen and First Aid Kits
NEW YORK, NY--(June 19, 2014) - FSAstore.com, the only e-commerce site stocked exclusively with Flexible Spending Account (FSA) eligible products, wants to remind nearly 35 million FSA holders that they may have a June 30th deadline to use remaining funds. Some employer-sponsored FSAs have this plan-year deadline by which employees must use FSA funds to avoid losing them. Flexible Spending Accounts are employer-based plans that let consumers set aside pre-tax income on qualified healthcare products and medical services.
“By offering thousands of everyday products and seasonal items like sunscreen, along with tools and information to help customers better understand and use their account, FSAstore.com encourages smart health care spending habits. That means consumers spend wisely and are not left with sizable account balances at deadline time," said Jeremy Miller, FSAstore.com founder and president.
Ensure that you’re making good use of your pre-tax dollars before the deadline by shopping online at FSAstore.com, which offers a wide selection of everyday and seasonal products, including sun care bundles, first-aid kits, contact lens care, breast pumps, and thermometers.
Keep track of your FSA deadline and remaining dollars with these mid-year tips:
- Confirm your FSA deadline with your FSA administrator or Human Resources department. You may have a grace period to continue to spend down funds or a rollover of up to $500. Knowing your exact deadline will help you plan wisely and avoid losing your tax-free dollars.
- Check plan guidelines to learn what is covered and what steps are necessary for reimbursement. If you have a “qualifying event,” such as the birth of a child or a change in marital status, ask if you can change your FSA contribution.
- Consider contributing to both a health care FSA and a Dependent Care FSA, if applicable. A Dependent Care FSA can be used to pay for qualifying child care or elderly care pre-tax.
- Know your contribution limits, and calculate out-of-pocket expenses with an FSA Calculator. You can typically contribute up to $2,500 in an FSA, and some employers may also choose to contribute in excess of that $2,500.
- Reduce paperwork by using an FSA card, and save up to 40% by using your FSA funds at FSAstore.com.
With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Americans have more control than ever over their health care choices, especially when it comes to paying for medical services and products. Even before the law was passed, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were effective means of covering these expenses, but many employees who are offered either an FSA or HSA are unsure of which option to choose.
Luckily, FSAstore.com is here to help you weigh the positives and negatives of these accounts, so you can make an informed choice that will work best for your bottom line.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
-Through the use of regular payroll deductions, FSA account holders can set aside tax-free money that they can use on FSA eligible medical services and products.
-Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can be purchased with an FSA after obtaining a prescription from a doctor.
-Employers can offer either an extended grace period at the end of an employee’s FSA year or the option to carry over up to $500 into the next year.
-There are no reporting requirements for FSAs on federal income tax returns.
-Employees are only allowed to contribute $2,500 into their FSAs each year. If you and your spouse have separate FSA accounts, you could contribute up to $5,000 -Employees are beholden to spending deadlines, so they will have to carefully plan out their spending throughout the year, while also leaving enough money to cover unexpected medical expenses.
-FSA account holders can itemize their deductions, but they cannot apply their FSA expenses when itemizing. This is considered “double dipping” by the IRS and is prohibited.
-Medical expenses like healthcare premiums, long-term care expenses and amounts covered under another health plan are not applicable with an FSA.
Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs)
-HSAs function much like personal savings accounts, but the funds are used to pay for healthcare expenses. These accounts give users far more freedom, as they are not tied to an employer or an insurance company.
-The money that is put into an HSA is not taxed and individuals can shop around for care and products based on quality and cost.
-Employers can contribute to an HSA, but employees will have direct control over spending and the funds will remain theirs even after switching jobs.
-Any unused money at the end of the year will be accessible during the next calendar year.
-Only individuals with a qualifying High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and no other first-dollar coverage are eligible for an HSA.
-Money removed from an HSA that is not used on qualifying healthcare expenses will be taxed in addition to a 20% penalty.
Ultimately, your decision between FSAs and HSAs will come down to what exactly your employer can offer you in terms of benefits, what sorts of health plans are feasible for your finances and how much you expect to spend on qualifying healthcare expenses and products over the course of a year.
Visit FSAstore.com to learn more about your potential benefits and explore our impressive selection of items that can help support your long-term health and well-being.
Avoid hiking injuries this summer with FSA eligible foot care products
No matter if you're a hiker, enjoy a day at the beach, or you're an athlete, summer is the time to be outside and take in the beautiful weather. Hikers all over the U.S. are gearing up to explore their favorite trails, state parks and nature walks. Of course, after a long winter being cooped up inside, outdoorsmen need to re-orient their “trail brain” to ensure that they pack intelligently to handle any issue that arises while out in the backcountry.
In addition to the basics like first aid kits, bug spray and other necessities, you should place a premium on foot care when you’re trekking through unknown territory. Blisters, sprains and other injuries can turn a great day into a downer very quickly, but if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), protecting your feet is easier than ever.
As you make the final preparations for your upcoming camping or hiking trip, check out these FSA eligible products from FSA store, that can keep you on the trail and on the way to reaching your destination.
No matter how comfy your hiking boots may be, adding another layer of protection along the sole of your shoe can provide additional padding that can keep you going all day long on the trails. According to REI.com, there are a number of considerations you should keep in mind when choosing your insoles, including the pronation of your feet, what type of footwear you’ll be using during your hike and their overall shelf life. Ideally, you’ll want a balance between fit and stability to offer optimal support during your time out on the trails.
Moleskin protective padding
Hot spots, or the tender areas on your feet are the tell-tale signs that a blister is forming. If you don’t look after it quickly, it can turn into a debilitating condition that will throw a major wrench in your hike. Moleskin is a great FSA eligible product that can be cut to any shape to provide padding for sensitive areas, and can be pivotal in preventing blisters and other maladies before they have a chance to form.
If you suffer from a lack of heel support in your hiking boots or feel that you are experiencing pressure unevenly over this portion of your foot, heel cups are a smart solution. According to PowerFeet.com, heel cups are ideal for those who suffer from frequent bouts of plantar fasciitis, providing additional support to worn out shoes and generally reducing the overall strain on this part of your foot.
You won’t be able to reach the summit unless your feet can get you there, so be sure to visit FSAstore.com before your anticipated hiking trip to put those tax-free funds toward reducing pain and improving your enjoyment of the great outdoors!
Which pre-tax option is right for you?
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are not always cut from the same cloth. When you begin work with an employer who offers this benefit, you will have to make some difficult choices regarding your plan, especially if you and your spouse have children or family members at home to take care of.
The most common FSA is the HealthCare FSA (HCFSA) that covers common medical procedures, co-payments, prescription drugs and over-the-counter products. However, parents and caretakers may also consider the Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA), which covers childcare and and maybe even care for family members who are incapable of self-care.
Here’s how to figure out which option is ideal for your budget and any future expenses:
HealthCare FSAs (HCFSA)
Popular among single individuals and families alike, there’s a lot to love about medical FSAs and their ability to cover a huge range of medical products and services. An FSA holder can allocate up to $2,500 each year with regular payroll deductions that can be spent on everything from bandages to contact lenses to medical co-payments. Many workers have until December 31 of each year (a popular FSA deadline) to use these funds before they disappear, but some employers will adhere to the IRS’s grace period regulations that extend the deadline until March 31. Recent legislation also allows account holders to roll over up to $500 into the following year’s FSA if it is not spent by the deadline.
Aside from being able to purchase a wide variety of FSA eligible products, a HealthCare FSA is essentially a tax deduction that reduces your adjusted gross income (AGI) and the amount of money you pay in taxes each month. While the account does not cover insurance premiums, long-term care coverage or expenses from another health plan, it’s extremely versatile and has nearly unlimited uses for the modern family.
Dependent Care FSAs (DCFSA)
Families with small children or those who care for an elderly family member will find DCFSAs rather intriguing, as these accounts will cover eligible dependent expenses that can be very significant over the course of a year. A DCFSA will cover child care for children up to age 13, as well as day care for anyone you list on your federal tax return as a dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of providing for his or her own care. This money is intended to assist you with these expenses while you and your spouse are gainfully employed.
Additionally, parents who are looking into DCFSAs to cover childcare may also want to investigate the childcare tax credit. According to Baby Center, the IRS will refund up to 20 to 35 percent of up to $3,000 for one child, and $6,000 if you have two or more kids. These numbers are dictated by your AGI: individuals with an AGI of $15,000 or below will receive the full credit, while higher AGIs will have smaller tax credits as household incomes rise.
Which is ideal for my situation?
After going through the fine print of what each kind of FSA entails, you have to be honest about your financial situation and find out which plan offers the most value with your yearly take-home pay. For most people, choosing one or the other makes the most sense depending on their needs at home and yearly medical expenses. Ultimately, the more money you put into an FSA, the more you’ll be able to get out of it, which directly influences higher income individuals.
However, those who are at lower income levels may find that their best option is to avoid the FSA route altogether and instead opt for the IRS’s childcare tax credit for better overall value over the course of a year. After all, an FSA is only beneficial to those who have the money to allocate to it and needs over the course of a year to make it worthwhile and realize savings, so tax credits may prove to be more valuable for some working families.
Each of these routes has their own unique benefits and disadvantages, so it may be wise to sit down with a financial professional to effectively calculate which route will give you the biggest bang for your buck. You can also visit FSAstore.com and check out our FSA Calculator to get a better sense of your yearly health spending and how an FSA can factor into your future plans!