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Basics

FSA Friday with Sean - 12/1/17 - FSA deadlines, smart shopping and HDHP confusion

Happy December, everyone! It's a busy time here at FSAstore.com. The year is ending, which means many of you have FSA deadlines rapidly approaching!

Of course, year-end deadlines mean year-end headlines. The three articles we selected this week highlight just how different our understanding of health savings and flexible spending accounts is across the country.

More importantly, even though FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com have the best Learning Centers on the web, these links illustrate how many more people we need to help understand their accounts.

In these links - all of which were published this week, by the way - we see how studies can turn up very different results. One claims HDHP members are smarter shoppers. Another claims these people aren't using their options the right way. Which is right? That depends on your situation.

Luckily, our Learning Center and calculators, along with 24/7 customer service, and a 100% eligibility-guarantee can help clear up this confusion, and help everyone benefit more from their benefits.

HDHPs decline as sole benefit plan option - Employee Benefit News

Just 28% of U.S. employers are considering offering HDHPs as their sole benefit option to their employees in the next three years. This is a reduction from a high of 44% in 2014, according to PwC's Health Research Institute study.

Consumers with high-deductible health plans may be smarter shoppers - Reuters

Even when consumers have health plans that require them to pay a high amount out-of-pocket for care, they often don't talk to doctors about the price of treatments or shop around to get the best deal, a U.S. study suggests.

Most Americans with high-deductible health plans don't shop or save - Insurance Journal

A new study suggests that despite the rise in these high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), most Americans who have them aren't saving, shopping around for better prices, talking to their doctors about costs, or making other consumer-type moves.

For the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow our Learning Center, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Basics

What is an FSA "run-out" period?

During the early part of the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plan year, you will hear plenty of terms being thrown around like "grace period" or "rollover," but one term that is constantly misunderstood is the FSA "run-out" period. This is a standard account feature that is built into the structure of most flexible spending accounts (FSAs), but it can often be confused with the FSA grace period because it is so similar. So what's the deal with the FSA "run-out" period? Let's find out.

"Run-Out" Periods

An FSA "run-out" period refers to the period of time in the new plan year during which account holders can file claims for expenses incurred during the previous plan year. This timeframe is chosen by the employer, not the IRS, and can last for any period of time, but the most common FSA "run-out" period is 90 days. For instance, if your FSA plan year ends on December 31 and you have a 90 day run out period, you would have until March 31 of the following year to submit claims for reimbursement.

What is the difference between the FSA grace and "run-out" periods?

A common source of confusion for FSA users is the difference between the FSA grace period and "run-out" period. Unlike the "run-out" period, the grace period is an option chosen by the employer, which gives FSA users 2.5 months after the end of the plan year to spend their remaining FSA funds.

The key difference is that with a grace period, new products/services can be purchased with prior funds into the new plan year, but with the run-out period, only expenses that were incurred during the prior plan year are eligible in the near year. FSAs can offer both the grace period and run-out, neither, one or the other, or even another option in which remaining funds up to $500 rollover to the following year, but this is left up to the FSA plan sponsor to choose. Always check with your FSA plan sponsor to find out which rules apply to your plan!

Looking ahead to March deadlines

With all of that confusion out of the way, March is poised to be a pivotal month for FSA users. If you have the FSA grace period and your FSA plan year ended December 31, 2016, you have until March 15, 2017 to make purchases with 2016 funds, while those with the 90 day "run-out" period have until March 31, 2017 to file claims for expenses incurred during 2016.

So don't wait - learn about the most important deadlines on your account and spend down your FSA funds at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to support the continued good health and wellness of you and your dependents.

Basics

May I use 2017 FSA dollars to pay a medical bill incurred in December 2016? Thank you.

While FSA plan years can vary, the vast majority of plans will end on 12/31 and the remainder of the funds will be forfeited to the FSA plan sponsor if they are not spent. However, employers can choose one (or neither) of two regulations: the $500 rollover or the 2.5 month grace period. The $500 rollover allows FSA users to roll over up to $500 into next year's account, while the 2.5 month grace period gives FSA users 2.5 months after the end of their plan year to make purchases and submit claims for reimbursement. So if your plan ends on 12/31, the only way you can still spend 2016 funds is if you have the 2.5 month grace period extension that ends on 3/15. Double check with your benefits administrator to find out when your 2016 funds expire and how long you have to spend or file claims.

Accounts

HSAs & FSAs: When shopping is the best medicine

One of the easiest ways to stay competitive in the hiring world is offering amazing benefits for your employees. But with the high cost of health care and lack of knowledge of your plan options, you might find this low on your priority list.

If you haven't explored the consumer driven health care (CDH) trend, now is your time. What started as an industry buzz word has become a budget-friendly benefit offering you can't ignore.

Health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are two elements that make up part of CDH. Both pre-tax benefits function similarly but do have distinct differences on factors like contribution limits, fund availability and rollover limits.

But don't worry – we've broken it all down for you.

PrimePay teamed up with the FSA Store to take you on a shopping trip that can actually save you money. View the infographic below for details on eligibility, deadlines and more.

Click the infographic to share on Twitter!

Basics

Have a year-end FSA deadline?

Have a year-end FSA deadline? Get spending tips from FSAstore.com CEO's and learn more about your FSA!

By Jeremy Miller, CEO & Founder of FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com

Open enrollment is a done deal for many companies, but employees – especially those who are facing a year-end flexible spending account deadline – still need support and direction from human resources and benefits professionals.

Recent surveys have shown that consumers still don't fully understand how their spending accounts work and, more importantly, that they look to their employers as a source of education and information about how to use their accounts. You can improve employee education, engagement and satisfaction with your company's FSA by reminding employees of these key spending account tips and reminders.

1. When is the deadline to submit expenses?

For many employers, December 31 is the deadline for employees to spend down FSA funds – or risk forfeiting unused dollars. This is commonly known as the “Use-it-or-lose-it" rule.

2. Is there an extension for spending FSA dollars?

Be sure to communicate clearly (and often) if your company offers one of the following plan features that give employees extra time to spend down their FSA or submit expenses for reimbursement:

  • Carryover or Rollover Option: This allows employees to carry over up to $500 of unused FSA dollars to the next plan year. This amount is added to their balance for the next year.
  • Grace Period: A grace period gives employees two-and-a-half months beyond December 31 (until March 15) to incur expenses and spend unused FSA dollars.
  • Run-Out Period: A run-out period gives employees additional time (usually 90 days) beyond the end of the plan year to submit reimbursement requests for eligible expenses, but only if those expenses were incurred during the plan year.

Employers can offer the carryover option or a grace period, but not both. Your company is not required to offer either of these options, but if your plan includes an extended deadline, that means employees have more time and flexibility to use their accounts, so be sure they understand this benefit.

Basics

Five Tips for the June 30 FSA deadline

FSAstore.com reminds nearly 35 million FSA holders that they may have a June 30 Flexible Spending Account plan-year deadline to use their remaining dollars.

FSAstore.com, the only e-commerce site stocked exclusively with Flexible Spending Account (FSA) eligible products, reminds nearly 35 million FSA holders that they may have a June 30 deadline to use remaining dollars. This deadline does not apply to all FSA accounts, but employees are urged to check remaining balances with their FSA administrator. FSAs allow consumers to set aside tax-free income for qualifying healthcare products and medical services.

"Using a Flexible Spending Account can be confusing, but it shouldn't be. At FSAstore.com, you can shop for everyday, exclusivelyFSA-eligible products, so there is no guesswork when using your account," said Jeremy Miller, FSAstore.com founder and president. "As summer approaches, people may be surprised they can shop for seasonal products including sunscreen, first-aid kits, and hot/cold therapy packs to make the most of their FSA. In addition to products, they can access resources like an Eligibility List and a Learning Center to help thembetter understand what's covered by their FSA."

Even if consumers do not have the June FSA deadline, the mid-year mark is a good time to check in about FSA balances and spending deadlines for the plan year.

Use remaining FSA dollars or make the most of your FSA through these mid-year tips:

  1. Check your remaining FSA balance. Ask an FSA administrator or Human Resources department about leftover funds. Knowing the exact plan-yeardeadline also allowsyou to avoid losing your tax-free dollars.
  2. Understand plan eligibility. Ask about plan guidelines to learn what is covered for seamless reimbursement.
  3. Check in about qualifying events. Normally, you can only elect contributions into your FSA during an annual open enrollment period, but there are exceptions.If you experience a “qualifying event," such as the birth of a child or a change in marital status, ask if you can change your FSA contribution.
  4. Keep track of different FSAs, if applicable. A Dependent Care FSA can be used to pay for qualifying child care on a pre-tax basis, while a healthcare FSA can cover qualifying medical expenses for you and your family(spouse and children through the age of 26).
  5. Use an FSA card. Reduce paperwork for reimbursement by using an FSA card, and save up to 40 percent when you shop at FSAstore.com.

About FSAstore.com

FSAstore.com was founded to make it simple and convenient to spend, manage, and use an FSA. FSAstore.com is the only e-commerce site stocked exclusively with FSA eligible products, eliminating any and all guesswork as to what is and is not FSA eligible. In addition to the 6,000 eligible products available, the site offers educational resources for FSA holders, including the most comprehensive Eligibility List in the industry and a Learning Center with answers to the most common FSA questions. FSAstore.com accepts all FSA and major credit cards, offers 24/7 customer service, two-day turnaround for all orders and free shipping on orders $50+.

Basics

FSAstore.com reminds consumers - June 30th FSA Deadline approaches

FSAstore.com Reminds Consumers: June 30th Deadline Approaching to Use Flexible Spending Account Dollars

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.