Considering nearly two out of every three Americans wear prescription glasses, it's surprising there's so much confusion around the FSA eligibility of eye wear and vision care. What's even more surprising is why more Americans aren't using their tax-free funds to pay for the products and services necessary to maintain proper eye health. And we're not just talking eyeglass repair kits and lens wipes -- there are some seriously surprising eye care items on our Eligibility List.
Since this winter is just getting started let's get ahead of your eye care and protection so you can make the most of the outdoors in the months ahead.
Contact lenses? Yes!
Let's be clear: there are plenty of places to buy contact lenses. But how many of them allow you to choose from a huge range of brands, entirely with your FSA, without wondering if the ones you want are eligible. Maybe we're a little biased, but we think you'll enjoy buying your contacts this way. (Oh, and when you pay with your FSA card, you can skip the receipts process!)
Prevention starts with protection…
No, we're not talking about high school health class… But the same thinking applies. According to a survey from The Vision Council, 75% of American adults in a survey are concerned about UV eye exposure, but only 31% report wearing sunglasses when going outside.
And cloudy days aren't much safer than sunny ones; you can still do some damage when it's overcast, because UV rays break through clouds and can damage unprotected eyes. Prescription sunglasses are FSA-eligible, so what's stopping you from being smarter than the 69% of people who leave their eyes unprotected?
Some lesser-known eye care options
We've used plenty of digital ink showing how laser eye surgery (more commonly known as LASIK) is completely eligible for FSA and HSA reimbursement. And we hope people are realizing that LASIK surgery is often inexpensive enough to cover entirely with their flexible spending funds.
It's not limited to LASIK, either. Medically necessary treatments and routine eye exams are all part of FSA eligible vision care.
Now, for arguably the most surprisingly eligible vision care expense of all -- guide dogs. The National Federation of the Blind has a list of guide dog schools that can connect you or your loved ones with the right service animal, should you need assistance getting around because of visual impairment or blindness.
Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Depending on where you live in the U.S., spring sure took its time getting here. But at our offices in New York City, this week represented 2018's first real taste of warmer weather. (We hope...)
We don't spend a lot of time covering dependent care FSAs on these pages, but summer is always a good time to see if this account is right for your family. Why? Because summer day camp is an eligible expense for dependent care FSA holders!
It seems strange to be thinking about cookouts and and camp songs on a site built around health and financial wellness, but the dependent care FSA is a great way for people to set aside tax-free money toward any relevant care costs -- including daycare and camp. And it looks like the warm weather has the media thinking about these things, too, based on the headlined below.
A recent study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, global policy firm, shows that voluntary summer programs like daycamp have a significant, positive impact on low-income students during a time when they fall behind their wealthier peers both academically and socially.
Their research also shows that children benefit from learning social and behavioral skills in different settings with new peers.
The problem comes from accessibility and cost. Many parents looking for assistance during the summer may not realize there are programs available to them to offset these expenses. The article suggests parents check to see if a camp participates in U.S. government assistance programs, as well as dependent care FSAs, which are eligible to cover day camps (overnight and sleepaway camps do not apply).
There may still be time to make this happen for the 2018 summer season. But if you miss out now, this is the perfect time to start planning for summer day camp expenses for 2019. And the next article discusses just that...
Once we started thinking about how planning is key to maximizing our FSAs, we were reminded of a great piece from last year's open enrollment season, in which the author highlighted how a little foresight at open enrollment can offer a huge win come summer camp season.
While you might not be thinking about s'mores when holiday music is already being played in stores, there are some significant savings to be had the following year.
If you already have a dependent care FSA, you're likely aware you can set aside up to $5,000 in tax-free funds for child care expenses for 2018 (as long as the child is under 13 and both parents are either gainfully employed or seeking gainful employment). But if you were saving for summer expenses, chances are you needed to make that decision at open enrollment the previous year.
Camp and other summer child-care costs can be a big line item for working parents. Though prices vary, summer day camp programs accredited by the American Camp Association average $314 per week. Using a dependent care FSA can help parents save an average of 30% on these services, while also reducing your overall tax burden.