A while back, we covered some surprisingly eligible ways you can use your FSA to care for your eyes. But we realized that contact lenses probably deserved a little more discussion.
Contact lenses, like eyeglasses or LASIK, can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. About 20% of Americans who need their vision corrected wear contact lenses. Contact lenses can provide a full field of unobstructed vision, which is great for being active and participating in sports.
And with good reason -- the National Eye Institute encourages everyone to get an annual eye exam. But what happens if you need glasses or want contacts? Can you use your FSA to pay for them?
How do I choose the best contact lenses for me?
Most eye care centers provide several options for contact lenses. But there are a few factors to consider when choosing the right type of lenses for you. First -- what is the physical material of the contact lenses? Traditional soft contact lenses provide the best comfort and adjust quickly when put in.
But you might also consider harder, gas-permeable (GP) lenses which usually require a little adjustment before they become comfortable. However, GP lenses provide better vision because they have a hard, polished surface that doesn't rip as easily as soft ones. Over time, this could mean real cost benefits.
Are all types of contacts covered?
In essence,if contacts are designed to correct vision problems, they are FSA-eligible. Though insurance companies might have their own policies regarding coverage of specific types or brands of lenses, all are fully reimbursable with your tax-free funds.
Plus, unlike some insurance providers, which may not cover contact lenses in place of eyeglasses, if the contacts are prescribed to correct vision they are eligible, regardless of insurance plan coverage.
So, what isn't covered?
If you're looking to use contact lenses purely for cosmetic purposes -- for example, trying a new eye color, adding to a sick Halloween costume, scaring your neighbors, etc. -- then you can't use your FSA to pay for them.
They may be fun and exciting, but they have no corrective purpose, so they don't make the cut. Don't feel slighted, though -- products and services designed only for cosmetic purposes are never FSA-eligible.
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.
Our mission at FSAstore.com is to help you maximize the potential of your flexible spending accounts and help you understand how critical an FSA can be in covering your family's healthcare needs. That's why we put together the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products.
Products and services become qualified for FSA reimbursement when they have an inherent medical purpose. So, FSAs can potentially cover medical procedures that fall outside of your physician network or insurance co-pays. Here are a few medical procedures and specialties that you may be surprised to find are FSA-eligible!
- LASIK Eye Surgery
LASIK is one of the most common eye surgeries to correct vision issues. It utilizes a special cutting laser to change the shape of the cornea to improve the patient's vision, reports The Mayo Clinic. LASIK is typically a major expense and may or may not be covered by your insurance plan, but it can be covered in full with funds from your FSA.
- Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic treatment has persisted as an insurance coverage question for decades, but the IRS ruled that this treatment is FSA-eligible and can be paid for with tax-free funds. According to the American Chiropractic Association, chiropractic services are used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal issues, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain,pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
Acupuncture is primarily used as a form of pain relief, and while results may vary greatly between patients, promising results have emerged in the treatment of a number of specific medical conditions. For instance, acupuncture has proven effective in reducing nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, as well as reducing discomfort from dental pain and the rehabilitative process following major surgery, reports The Mayo Clinic.
According to the same Mayo Clinic article, acupuncture has also been known to relieve pain associated with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, labor pains, and muscle and joint injuries. So, as long as the treatment is deemed medically necessary by a doctor, acupuncture is FSA-eligible (although your benefits administrator may require certain types of supporting documentation to approve the charge).
Please note the differences between acupuncture and acupressure, which also falls within FSA guidelines.
- Smoking Cessation Programs
When it's finally time to kick your habit, smoking cessation programs can dramatically increase your chances of quitting for good. In addition to nicotine patches, inhalers and gums that are FSA-eligible (with a prescription from a doctor) smoking cessation programs is also an eligible service covered by an FSA. These programs are typically healthcare provider-assisted programs, but they can also be hosted by municipal, state and federal healthcare networks, nonprofits, and private institutions. Entry fees and other fees associated with the program would be eligible for FSA reimbursement.
Recovering from a major medical episode is not only reserved to just one's physical health. Supporting one's recovery with mental health services like counseling can aid the healing process and give patients the support they need to get well. As long as counseling services are directly related to one's medical treatment, the cost of these services would be eligible for FSA reimbursement.
For more information about what your benefit covers, explore the FSAstore.com Eligibility List and check our blog often for the latest news and information about your employee benefits!
*Note that not all FSAs cover all FSA-eligible expenses as they may be limited by the plan. Always check with your HR department or FSA benefits administrator on exactly what your FSA will cover.*
Is LASIK an FSA eligible expense? You can learn much more about LASIK and FSA eligibility in the blog post, including what's involved in the actual surgery.
Every once in a while, customers wonder if they can use their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for LASIK surgery. In short, the answer is yes.
LASIK Surgery is FSA Eligible
You can pay for your laser vision correction with either a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account. Before you go ahead and set aside money for LASIK for the year, remember that 20-30% of people who want LASIK cannot have it done for medical reasons.
Depending on where you get your surgery done, the pricing may be low enough to be covered entirely by your eligible pre-tax spending account. See if you can find out the exact cost for your procedure to figure out the most effective way to use your FSA or HSA to pay for LASIK.
Ask the practice for a receipt of your FSA expense for the LASIK procedure and submit it to your FSA/HSA administrator for reimbursement. Under the FSA "use it or lose it" rule, you can use your remaining FSA balance to fund a portion of your LASIK eye surgery procedure rather than losing that money.
LASIK Surgery Explained and Payment with Flexible Spending Accounts
LASIK eye surgery is done to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism in the eyes. It's a commonly performed surgery that is short (only several minutes per eye) and painless. The goal is to eliminate the need for eyeglass or contact lenses, saving money and hassle in the long run.
Your LASIK doctor will perform a dilated eye exam to measure things like the shape and thickness of your cornea, pupil size, refractive errors, and general health to ensure you are the right candidate for LASIK.
How the LASIK surgery actually works:
During the LASIK procedure, a specially trained eye surgeon creates a precise and thin incision on your cornea. The excimer laser then reshapes the cornea in a unique pre-specified pattern for each patient The cornea is reshaped to allow light entering the eye to be focused on the proper part of the retina to obtain clearer vision.
Since contact lenses alter the natural shape of your eye, you will be asked to stop wearing contacts for a specified period of time prior to your surgery date.
Traditional vs Custom Procedure
With the Traditional Laser eye procedure, a patient's prescription is measured using the same methods that would determine their prescription for glasses and contacts. With the Custom Wavefront Laser procedure, a comprehensive map of the patient's eye is used to guide the procedure.
Traditional procedures are effective for treating lower-order irregularities like myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia. Custom procedures help treat lower-order aberrations as well as higher-order aberrations such as halos, glare and starbursts.
Awaiting LASIK or still doing research on it and want to shop for eye care instead?
You can buy a variety of eye care products at FSA Store, including contact lens solution, prescription eyeglasses and even contact lenses!
As indispensable as our eyes are as windows to the world around us, eye care usually does not rank among the top health priorities among adults. In particular, women are at an increased risk for ocular issues, as vision changes can arise during pregnancy, post-menopause and hormonal fluctuations.
As a result, the charity Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has named April Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month to spread awareness of the importance of regular eye exams and the potential dangers of conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and other ailments. According to WomensEyeHealth.org, three quarters of visual impairment is estimated to be preventable or correctable in women, which highlights just how vital regular screenings can be for women at any age.
Luckily, those who have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), can use their tax-free funds on a wide range of eye care products and services that can promote positive ocular health and save money in the process. Here are a few FSA eligible ideas that ladies should consider during Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month.
Corrective vision items and accessories
Women who wear glasses or contact lenses know that the aftermarket products that are needed to take care of them can be a major expense over time. Ladies with an FSA have a major advantage over non-account holders, as they can use their tax-free funds to pay for contact solution, cleaning cloths, eye drops, eyeglass repair kits and much more. When a problem arises, these FSA purchases can handle any eye care-related problems in a pinch.
LASIK eye surgery
Many women are unaware that their FSAs will cover advanced eye procedures like LASIK surgery, and this method has been proven to be extremely effective in treating myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism in adults. According to Medicine Net, LASIK surgery treats these conditions by using a highly specialized laser to reshape the cornea to correct any underlying issues inhibiting proper eyesight. Of course, this is a big decision for anyone considering the surgery, so visiting an ophthalmologist (and use an FSA) and going over all options and potential risks is recommended.
Regular eye exams
Most importantly, women should make an effort to put eye care in the same category as a regular physical and other priority examinations. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, adults should have their eyes examined every two to four years before the age of 40, and every one to two years as adults reach middle age and beyond. These exams are pivotal in the early detection of debilitating eye conditions, as well as correcting any vision problems that may be on the horizon.
During Women’s Eye Care and Safety Month, be sure to visit FSAstore.com to browse through an impressive selection of eyeglass & lens accessories, contact lens solutions and much more. Start seeing clearer and put those FSA funds to work toward your improved health and well-being.
A Flexible Spending Account pays for many types of out-of-pocket health care costs, including Lasik. Also, an FSA can be applied to co-pays at the doctor's office, specialty medical services such as acupuncture, and thousands of medical products and supplies found at FSAstore.com.
An FSA covers eye care – eyeglasses, contact lenses, contact lens solution, and yearly eye exams. The IRS approves laser eye surgery to treat vision problems including through LASIK (laser eye surgery). FSA Eye Care
Have any questions about other FSA eligible expenses? Comment below and we'll be sure to include your question in an upcoming blog post.