Got the 12/31 FSA deadline? For many FSA users, it is their last chance to spend FSA funds before remaining funds are forfeited.
Do you have a 12/31 FSA deadline? December 31 will be here before you know it, which for many FSA users is their last chance to spend FSA funds before remaining funds are forfeited. While employers do have the option of offering a 2.5 month grace period or allow employees to roll over up to $500 after this date, the end of 2016 is crunch time for FSA holders!
Don't lose a cent of your hard-earned cash! If you're looking for ways to spend down your allocations, break out your FSA card and shop for thousands ofFSA eligible products at FSAstore.com!
Here are a few of our favorites for the upcoming 12/31 FSA deadline:
Saline Nose Wipes
Cold & flu season is here. Instead of going through boxes upon boxes of tissues that can irritate the skin around your nose, opt for soothing saline nasal wipes to relieve your worst congestion symptoms.
You can never have enough bandages around the house when mishaps large and small take place. As long as they are in a cool, dry place, bandages have a nearly unlimited shelf life, so now is the perfect time to re-up!
First Aid Kits
Is your home's first aid kit up to par? Or, do you have one in your car, boat or RV for emergency situations? Your FSA can cover a huge range of qualifying first aid kits to give you confidence in any dicey situation.
Blood pressure monitor
FSAs cover a wide range of diagnostic products, but those who have been diagnosed with hypertension or have a history of heart disease should consider a blood pressure monitor. Many of these products are smartphone-compatible, and they can provide a long-term picture of one's blood pressure numbers to improve the patient's overall treatment.
Whether you're still using traditional glass thermometers or another device is at the end of its lifespan, your FSA can cover a worthy replacement! Pick the perfect thermometer to suit you or a loved one's needs that measures temperature through the ear, mouth, forehead and other areas quickly and accurately.
Check Out: Mabis Instant Ear Thermometer
While the December 31 deadline may not have you thinking about fun in the sun, the sun's rays are still potent during outdoor activities in winter. Also, if you have a vacation on the horizon, this is the perfect time to pick up what you'll need to provide optimal sun care for you and your loved ones.
Check Out: La Roche Posay Sun Care
Stay on top of your eye care regimen with an FSA. Ifyou wear reading or prescription eyeglasses, shop awide range of FSA eligible eyeglass accessories. Keep your lenses clear and enhance your eyewear lifespan with lens cleaning wipes.
Don't hurt your inner ears with cotton swabs ever again! An ear unclogger is the safest method to clear the Eustachian tubes through the body's own natural mechanism for clearing ears.
Check Out: Eustachi Ear Unclogger
Flexible elastic bandages are extremely helpful in the event of muscle/joint sprains. They can also help stabilize an affected area to promote the healing process.
Check Out: ACE 3" Self-Adhering Elastic Bandage
These FSA eligible items come in a wide range of colors and styles to suit any lifestyle.
Need even more shopping inspiration? Browse our 2016 End of Year Popular Product Guide!
People often wonder whether to get a flu shot. Did you know you can get a flu shot with an FSA? Get more details in the post!
Should I geta flu shot, and is aflu shot covered byan FSA? People often wonder about that. And, even thoughNational Influenza Vaccination Weekwas last week, there's still time to get a flu shot. Each year,National Influenza Vaccination Weekhighlights how important it is to continue gettingfluvaccinations for every member of your family.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months old receive a flu vaccination each year. This is really to build up an immunity to the virus before the onset of flu season. Because influenza strains evolve so quickly, last year's flu shots will not necessarily protect against this year's viruses, so it's vital to geta shot each year to avoid contracting the virus.
But, this brings us back to the original questions: how do flu shots really work, and can you get a flu shot with an FSA? Let's find out more details.
How do flu shots prevent influenza?
Flu shots are seasonal immunizations designed to prevent the contraction of the influenza virus, which hits its peak in the early winter and can linger as late as May. Influenza is classified as a respiratory illness, and unlike a cold, flu symptoms typically come on suddenly and linger for far longer. Some of the most common flu symptoms include severe muscle/joint aches, sore throat/runny nose, headaches, fever, extreme fatigue and weakness. Each year, about 36,000 Americans die from serious complications that arise from influenza contraction, including pneumonia, dehydration and infections. The flu can also act as a catalyst to exacerbate long-term medical conditions like asthma, congestive heart failure and diabetes.
Each year, flu vaccine manufacturers determine which strains of the influenza virus will be most common during the upcoming season and the seasonal flu shot will protect against these variants. Traditionally, these take the form of "trivalent" vaccines that safeguard the recipient against the most common two influenza A strains and one influenza B virus. Additionally, quadrivalent flu shots are also available that protect against two influenza A and two influenza B strains, and are available in standard injections, intradermal shots into the skin and nasal spray vaccines. About two weeks after receiving the vaccination, patients will have developed the antibodies necessary to repel the viruses.
So, what are you waiting for in terms of the flu shot?
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), your healthcare benefits will cover flu shot expenses for you and your dependents. It's the easiest step you can take to safeguard your family's health this winter - and you can do even more for their well-being year-round by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA/HSA/HRA eligible products to support your loved ones' continued good health and wellness.
Luckily, your healthcare FSA could help you de-stress, so you can go on with your day without worrying. Learn more in the blog post about being stress free.
It can be hard to get through the weekday when various events are causing stress in your life. Whether you’re having difficulties with projects at work or worried about your child’s performance at school, stress has become commonplace. While some stress is healthy or at least harmless, major traumatic changes or continuous stress over the same matter can cause long term health problems.
Luckily, your Healthcare FSA could help you de-stress, so you can go on with your day.
Warning signs or symptoms that signal you might be close to a stress overload are placed into 4 different categories:
- Cognitive Symptoms: inability to concentrate, memory problems, constant worrying, anxiety, persistent negativity, poor judgment
- Emotional Symptoms: Irritability, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed or isolated, depression
- Physical Symptoms: aches and pains, nausea, diarrhea constipation, chest pain, loss of sex drive, frequent colds
- Behavioral Symptoms: change in appetite and sleep, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, nervous habits, isolating yourself from others
In addition to these undesirable symptoms, some long-term health effects of chronic stress include:
- Pain of any kind
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Digestive, sleep, and weight problems
- Skin conditions like eczema
How Can You De-stresswithyour Healthcare FSAhelp?
- Give back: Volunteer your time or expertise to feel good about helping someone else. Help out at a bake sale or spend the weekend working at a community garden.Don’t forget to put on sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time.
- Relieve tension: Do some yoga, meditation, or stretching and breathing exercises to loosen up your body.Additionally use one of our hot and cold packs to relieve soreness in your back, shoulders, and neck area.
- Sleep: Getting even 30 minutes of shut eye can help you relax and put your troubles in perspective.Having trouble falling asleep? Perhaps one of these sleep aids will help you get the rest you need.
- Go on a hike or to the park: Seeing nature has psychological benefits - it can calm the brain and better your mood and concentration.
- Be prepared for your adventures. Depending on what outdoor activity you choose, you’ll want to have an Adventure Medical first aid kit ready just in case.
- Get your blood pumping: Slip on your sneakers and hit the gym or take a spin class.Make sure you’re fully equipped with back supports, sunscreen, and anything else you need to exercise properly! Track your blood pressure through QardioArm.
- Organize your living space: If your house is a mess, you might feel like a mess too. Take an afternoon to tidy things up.
Snag one of our comfort bundles with your Flexible Spending Account for extra relaxation during a stressful week!
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!
Where Can I Find My Flex Spending Account Information?
Want to know how much money is left in your Flexible Spending Account? Simply need to check the status of a claim or need to submit a claim for reimbursement? Do you know the deadlines your plan has by which you must use your FSA dollars to avoid losing them?
People often wonder about all of this FSA account information. The main source for your FSA account is your FSA provider, also known as a Third Party Administrator (TPA). FSA providers work with your employer to administer your FSA account - it’s safe to think of them as a type of “gatekeeper” to your FSA.
Through your FSA provider, you can access your FSA balance, submit or monitor claims for reimbursement, check payments made from your account, and sort out any other information you may need. Many TPAs offer FSA information online. You should ask your TPA about documentation known as a Summary Plan Description, which contains important details about the benefits included in your FSA account.
Our FSAstore.com customer service team often gets requests to look up personal FSA balance information. However, FSAstore.com does not have access to your FSA account. Please contact your TPA with any questions pertaining to your FSA.
FSA administrator contact information is accessible via the following options:
1. If you have an FSA Debit card, the TPA’s number should be listed on the back of the card.
2. You can ask your HR department representative who your FSA provider is.
3. If you know your TPA or have issues finding contact information, consult FSAstore.com’s Contact Us page for information on almost 100 FSA providers.