How to maximize your healthcare dollars in 2015

By now you've likely already settled your New Year's Resolutions for the year, and most likely, health care is among them in some way (exercising more is a popular one!).

Many people also went through healthcare open enrollment in the last few months of the year. If that applied to you, you had to sort through your available benefits and elect new ones, or stick with the old options you had. If a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) were an option you selected, you're in for some great pre-tax savings!

FSA money is taken out of your paycheck each month, but the money is contributed on a pre-tax basis (and if you think about it, the FSA funds are taken out before you even get your paycheck). With an FSA, taxable income goes down and spendable income goes up...leaving you with additional money to use for healthcare expenses.

Updates for 2015:

1. Flexible Spending Account Contributions Increased. As of 2015, you can now contribute up to $2,550 to your FSA plan. Some employers opt to contribute extra to that (and that does not count toward the limit). Check in with your FSA administrator (or HR department, if unsure who to contact) about the contribution maximum of your plan.

2. Plan ahead. Before you signed up for an FSA, you had to estimate your healthcare expenses for the year. It can be a little tricky to think far ahead, and even if you know you'll need an eye exam or schedule a dental visit, you might still be curious about other available expenses.

Check out these resources to learn more:

3. Got a Carryover or Grace Period? If you're among those with a Flexible Spending Account year that hasn't ended yet due to an extension such as the Carryover or a Grace Period, then you still have time to use up remaining funds or incur new expenses. Be sure to ask your FSA administrator to see if either of these extensions applies to your plan.
  • If you have the Grace Period (and your plan year ended on December 31), then you'd have until March 15, 2015 to use remaining FSA money.
  • If you have a Carryover, you could have carried over up to $500 (employers determine the exact amount) in unused FSA money to this year.

Related posts you might be interested in:

Preparing for 2015 with your Flexible Spending Account

Claims Questions with Your Flexible Spending Account