In mid-May 2020, the IRS made a revolutionary change in light of the public health crisis to open up the option for mid-year changes to FSAs and other insurance plans. In the past, the only times these mid-year changes were allowed were due to qualifying life events like marriage or the birth of a child, but with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a sea of changes with how consumers use their flexible spending accounts (FSAs), the option to pursue mid-year FSA changes is welcome and necessary.
Now a month removed from that big announcement, many FSA users are probably wondering: so when can I make changes to my contribution and coverage? Well here's the kicker: FSA mid-year changes are only available for account holders whose employers open them up for their employees.
With that information in mind, let's explore what employees should do next when inquiring about FSA mid-year changes
1. Talk with HR!
Your human resources department should be your first stop to inquire about any substantive changes in your company's benefits and whether there are any future plans to pursue mid-year changes for 2020. Ultimately, it's in your employer's hands to make this decision, but reminding them to weigh the pros and cons of allowing the change if they haven't done so already is the first step.
2. Talk with your FSA account administrator!
If you feel more comfortable, your FSA account administrator, whose information can typically be found on the back of your FSA card if one is available, is a great resource to talk with about your FSA related questions. They'll be able to tell you about your current plan options and any they're aware of, although they may ultimately refer you back to your HR department if your employer hasn't made a decision as of yet.
If mid-year changes are allowed…
If your employer did open up FSA mid-year changes to you and your fellow employees, you essentially have a mini open enrollment to prepare for. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Should I contribute more or withdraw?
One of the unique aspects of these mid-year changes is that the IRS is allowing FSA users to either contribute more to their accounts to meet the 2020 contribution limit ($2,750) or withdraw these funds for personal use (post income taxes). We always err on the side of taking advantage of an FSA's tax benefits, but every person's financial situation is unique, so do what is best for your bottom line.
2. Should I elect a new FSA or drop my current one?
The IRS is also permitting those who had previously chosen to forego an FSA election for this year to elect one mid-year with these changes. If you have the option to add an FSA, now is a good time to explore the thousands of eligible products which will qualify and ways you may be able to save money and reduce your taxable income. And if you currently have an FSA and are considering dropping it under the changes, remember that if you can swing it, FSAs do reduce your taxable income, and there are still plenty of ways to responsibly use your FSA funds this year.
3. How can I estimate my future spending?
If you're stuck pondering your qualified healthcare spending for the rest of 2020, our FSA Calculator can help. This can help give you a full picture of your finances to plan out your future medical expenditures so you can accurately predict the right contribution for you and your dependents' needs.
It's an exciting time to be an FSA user, and you may have more flexibility with your account than you could have ever imagined! Now is the right time to start asking questions and finding out the benefits plans of your organization for the rest of 2020.
Thanks for visiting the FSA Learning Center! We'll keep you posted on all the FSA changes that may be coming in the foreseeable future, so be sure to to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates.
June is finally here and families all over the U.S. will look to the great outdoors to enjoy their the warm weather. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, health implications and safety take on a new profound importance in everyday life, and your flexible spending account (FSA) can help you plan ahead so you don't miss out on your favorite summer activities.
Before it's time to (safely) enjoy the great outdoors, we surveyed the Health-E Commerce team for a list of their top 10 favorite summer health and wellness essentials of 2020:
Summer means pesky mosquitoes, and if you're looking for a drug-free way to treat insect bites, look no further than the Bug Bite Thing! This device uses suction to painlessly and effectively extract insect saliva/venom from under the skin to eliminate itching, stinging and swelling.
Don't neglect your lip protection during the summer months! Sun Bum® lip balm offers broad spectrum protection to safeguard against UV rays, as well as moisturizers to keep them feeling refreshed and cool with a fun watermelon flavor!
Year-round sun care is a smart choice for your skin health, so if you're looking for a daily wear sunscreen that can support your skin while keeping you protected, look no further than this great daily wear sunscreen from MDSolarSciences™.
This wearable UV detection sticker is one of the favorites of the FSAstore.com staff! This color changing sticker is waterproof, sweat resistant and hypoallergenic, and changes color when it's time for you to reapply sunscreen.
Don't forget kid's sun protection as well! Our pick is the Neutrogena® Wet Skin Kids Stick, which offers broad spectrum and SPF 70 protection, and extra water resistance to keep them safe. If your little ones are especially little, we also have baby sunscreen!
Need a new pair of readers for the beach or wherever you're headed? See clearly and support a great cause! With the sale of each Caring Mill product, we make a donation to Children's Health Fund.
If blisters are common when you hit the great outdoors, plan ahead with Band-Aid® Hydro Seal Blister Cushions. They're moisture-resistant to stay adhered during long walks and hikes, and can help you ward off discomfort all summer long.
While we're on the subject of foot pain, one of our favorite hi-tech health products is Vibrathotics®, a vibrating shoe insert that reduces pain and numbness in the feet by improving blood circulation and stimulating nerves. They're perfect for a post-gym cooldown, pain relief after a long walk and are a great drug-free choice for foot pain.
Muscle soreness and injuries shouldn't get in the way of your fitness plan, and that's why athletes the world over trust KT Tape® to stay in the game. These kinesiology tapes are super flexible to be worn during workouts to enhance blood flow to sore and aching muscles without obstructing your range of motion.
Are you prepared for medical emergencies during your summer travels? Stay on top of bumps, bruises, cuts and more with a portable MediAid® first aid kit, which can easily fit in a bag, glove compartment or suitcase.
And don't forget, with the passage of the CARES Act in late March, your FSA now covers over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without a prescription, and feminine care products like tampons, pads, and more are now fully FSA-eligible! It's a great time to be an FSA user.
Thanks for visiting the FSA Learning Center! For the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
With millions of Americans turning to their flexible spending account (FSA) dollars to cover the immediate costs of medical care and virus preparedness amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a few very important FSA changes have emerged in recent months. The first was the CARES Act, which opened up over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and feminine care products to full FSA eligibility, while the second came this week as the IRS took a major step to open up mid-year FSA changes to account holders.
In the past, mid-year FSA changes were only allowed if the account holder experienced a qualifying life event, such as marriage, the birth of a child or a change in employment. Because of the public health crisis, this week the IRS provided two new notices that may provide additional flexibility for FSA users:
Notice 2020-29: This notice allows for mid-year changes for health plans including FSAs to allow employees to elect new health plan coverage or revoke existing coverage dating back to the beginning of the year. This means that account holders can choose to elect into or opt out of an existing FSA or increase or decrease a current FSA election. Here's the big thing to remember: this will only be available to account holders whose employers allow these mid-year changes.
It also allows for a possible extension of previously expired 2019 funds if an employer chooses. The Notice provides the option for employers to further extend FSA deadlines through the end of 2020 for 2019 plan years which had certain deadline extensions already in place.
What does this mean?
This is a big one in the history of FSAs. Account holders effectively have the opportunity to reduce their overall FSA contribution, or withdraw from their program if permitted by their employer and if they so choose. Conversely, those who aren't enrolled in an FSA and want to use this opportunity to save on expected healthcare costs, or up their contribution for 2020, have the ability to do so if their employer chooses to participate. Account holders should start by consulting their benefits administrator or HR department for more information on whether these changes will affect their accounts.
Notice 2020-33: This notice increases the maximum FSA carryover allowed from $500 to $550, if amended and allowed by the plan. Last year, President Trump signed an executive order directing the US Treasury to increase the FSA carryover amount. In response, the maximum carryover amount has been increased to $550.
What does this mean?
The $550 was indexed to inflation and represents 20% of the current total FSA allowed maximum for the year of $2,750 (the prior limit of $500 was 20% of the original FSA election limit of $2,500). When it comes to enacting these changes, employers may choose to allow up to $550 to carryover or a lesser amount if they choose. Carryovers are one of three deadline extension options which employers may or may not allow.
Once again, a good first step for account holders is to consult their benefits administrator or HR department to find out if a carryover will be available during their plan year and if so, what the maximum carryover amount will be.
What's next?We'll keep you posted on all the FSA changes that may be coming in the foreseeable future, so be sure to to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates.
As the U.S. makes preparations to ride out the COVID-19 wave, millions of Americans with FSAs are turning to their employee benefits to help them cover the cost of qualified medical products for virus preparedness.
Our customer service team has received an overwhelming response from concerned customers, and we wanted to get on top of the biggest questions quickly so you can get the best info to prepare for COVID-19.
Are masks FSA-eligible?
Surgical masks and those designed to prevent the spread of pathogens like the N95 mask, are currently not FSA-eligible. However, there may be some cases when a benefits administrator may approve a mask as a "preventive health" expense, but these cases are rare.
The CDC has advised consumers that masks should only be used by those who have already contracted the virus, and due to a shortage of available masks, the CDC urges the public to not hoard masks and other equipment that could be best used by trained healthcare personnel.
Are surgical gloves FSA-eligible?
Surgical gloves are also not FSA-eligible, although without any clear guidance from the IRS, these too could be considered an eligible expense by some administrators. In most cases, it's best to check with your administrator first to check their eligibility status under your plan.
Is hand sanitizer FSA-eligible?
Hand sanitizer may be FSA-eligible, but it likely falls under a class of products that require a prescription to purchase with FSA funds. In accordance with regulations put forth in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), over-the-counter products that contain "medicated ingredients" require an Rx to purchase. The most common active ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol, and products must contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be considered antibacterial.
Other products such as rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are may also be FSA-eligible, but could falso require a prescription to be reimbursed through an FSA. To find out more about eligibility for these products, contact your FSA administrator.
Update (4.7.20): With the passage of the CARES Act, the prescription requirement for OTC medicines with an FSA/HSA has been lifted. However, hand sanitizer has not been made eligible at this time. We are appealing to the IRS for additional guidance in the hopes that this essential product be made available to tax-free healthcare consumers.
Are antibacterial products FSA-eligible?
Currently no. These are not considered qualified medical expenses but we are hopeful that they may be in the future. As always, we'll keep you posted if anything changes.
What are the best options to combat COVID-19 with my FSA?
In truth, the vast majority of preparations that the CDC recommends to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as washing hands, avoiding large crowds and wiping down commonly used surfaces with antibacterial products, are not practices that can be aided by your FSA at this juncture. The fact is, FSA regulations need to expand to allow for preventive products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial products and more to help combat this public health crisis.
FSAstore.com is taking direct steps to help FSA users:
We have recently launched our new Virus Preparedness category to ensure families can find the most popular FSA-eligible items purchased during flu season. In response to the growing pressure of the broader market, we have taken further steps as advocates of our tax-free health community to make virus preparedness our top priority.
- We will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each product found on the Virus Preparedness page to the CDC Foundation to support their response in combating COVID-19.
- Our Fair Price Pledge: During the public health emergency in the US caused by the 2019 coronavirus, we pledge to provide fair price protections for all items in our Virus Preparedness category. We will make every effort to keep a steady supply of these items available to our customers at current prices. Prices may increase, however, if market conditions require it, such as paying a premium to secure product during a supply shortage, expediting product shipments to our warehouses so you can receive them quicker or other similar situations.
- With millions of Americans struggling with the unexpected financial burden brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, FSAstore.com is looking to the IRS to clarify the eligibility status of key items like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and more. It's our hope that the IRS will provide guidance so that FSA users will be able to confidently use their tax-free funds to cover these much-needed items.
With coronavirus cases surging around the globe and the United States beginning to see its first cases, this public health crisis has everyone taking a closer look at their state of health, hygiene and preparedness for a potential pandemic.
Here at FSAstore.com, we've already seen an uptick in interest in thermometers, respiratory therapy, vaporizers and nasal decongestants. The fact is, your flexible spending account (FSA) could be a great help in a time like this, and we want to give you all the tools and know-how you need to take full advantage of your tax-free healthcare benefits to safeguard you and your family's health.
What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a classification of respiratory viruses that were discovered in the 1960s and include conditions ranging from the common cold to more serious conditions like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The current strain that is causing issues all over the globe, COVID-19, is similar to the aforementioned strains but has unique qualities that are making it a uniquely difficult disease to prepare for, and we're still learning more and more about the virus each day (APIC).
Are virus preparation products FSA-eligible?
Some! FSAs are designed to help individuals and families cover the cost of qualified medical expenses, and there are a number of products available that can help you or your family get prepared. Many of the same items that can help ward off and treat seasonal flu viruses can be very handy in any virus preparedness plan.
We have created a Virus Preparedness page to help you get started.
How does coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 is spread person to person and through contact with infected surfaces and objects. However, the CDC warns that while it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads (CDC).
How do I protect myself from catching coronavirus (COVID-19)?
It's still flu season in much of the United States, and many of the same steps that we all take to avoid catching the flu can apply to coronavirus preparation - just a bit more top of mind and built into your daily routine. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Wash your hands! The risk of any virus can be reduced (sometimes by as much as 50%) by proper hand hygiene. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Can't wash your hands? Use a hand sanitizer. While not as effective as hand washing, in a pinch, a vigorous hand rub with sanitizer is better than nothing. APIC recommends an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Keep surfaces clean. Antibacterial wipes and sprays are a good start to keep your home's surfaces germ-free, and it may be smart to keep some in your backpack or purse when you're heading out. If you're looking for a DIY solution, a 1:10 bleach solution works in a pinch.
- Keep commonly used devices clean. How often are you washing your phone or keys? Use the aforementioned antibacterial wipes or a bottle of alcohol and cotton balls to do the trick.
- Keep tissues on hand. When you feel that sneeze coming on, direct it into a tissue or your arm to help prevent community spread. And be sure to dispose of those used tissues and wash your hands afterward at the first opportunity.
- Stay home if you're not feeling well. Don't risk it! If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19., the CDC suggests calling your healthcare professional.
What are smart FSA-eligible purchases for coronavirus preparation?
Your FSA can play an important role in helping to boost your current state of health and treat virus-like symptoms should they arise. Here are few suggestions to keep in mind that are useful in any virus preparedness plan:
Every home needs a good thermometer so you can stay on top of temperature readings for you or your loved ones and plan your treatment plan accordingly. With in-ear, forehead, infrared and more, there are plenty of options out there to suit your budget.
COVID-19 is a respiratory condition, as is seasonal influenza that can result in painful coughing, aches and pains. Vaporizers deliver targeted steam therapy to your breathing passages to clear mucus, soothe discomfort from coughing or a sore throat and clearing away environmental pollutants that may be present. If you're looking for something less time-consuming, saline sprays can work in a pinch.
Nasal irrigation with Neti pots and saline sprays are great options to have on-hand from common colds to more advanced conditions. Nasal irrigation is also extremely helpful in treating upper respiratory conditions to help clear breathing passages, remove environmental pollutants and ease inflammation.
Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications
Finally, it may be wise to pick up a few over-the-counter medicines to err on the safe side. Pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen, cold & allergy medicines like decongestants and expectorants will be great to have on-hand throughout cold & flu season.
Finally, if you do become sick, there are a few items you may be happy that you picked up in advance. Dual hot and cold packs for treating pain and inflammation, first aid kits for any emergencies and saline wipes are great options to help you ride out the worst of your illness.
Update: As of March 2020 with the passage of the CARES Act, the OTC Rx requirement has been repealed and prescriptions are no longer necessary to purchase over-the-counter medicines with an FSA or HSA. Additionally, menstrual care products like tampons and pads are fully FSA-/HSA-eligible. Learn more here.
Am I ready?
We encourage our readers to visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website often for the latest updates on COVID-19 and the best actionable information you can use to safeguard your family.
COVID-19 is a definite concern and it's spread will be generally disruptive, difficult and possibly dangerous for some at-risk groups. But taking real steps to mitigate the effects it will have on you or your family isn't an overreaction — it's a responsible choice that your FSA can help you achieve.
It's no surprise that in the first few weeks of January, the gym's packed and there's no lettuce left at the supermarket. While having a "get healthy" new year's resolution is great, a $50-per-month, 5-day-a-week gym membership doesn't always fit nicely into a busy life schedule. That's why I came up with an alternative.
Welcome to my "I don't need a gym to work out" workout.
(Please Note: I don't have a Ph.D. or an M.D., and can't tell you how to work out. But I also don't have a gym membership card -- this is just what works for me. Maybe it can help you, too!)
Find your own "I workout and don't go to a gym" lifestyle
If you're a busy mom of three, a full-time student, or crunching the numbers at your 9-5 (actually, 9-9), finding time to go to the gym can be tough. That's why I have what I call, "The Apartment Hustle."
I live in a small city apartment (and work in Manhattan) so there's never time to do much because of long commutes. So, I started doing lunges on my way down the hall, sneaking in a few sit-ups while my next Netflix episode loads and even running (yes running) up the stairs to the apartment. It's everything you could want in a workout without having to go to the gym and work out.
However, once I'm done with the Apartment Hustle, I need a bit of recovery (because I'm actually a retired and very injured athlete at 21-years old). So, when it comes time to make sure I'm feeling A-OK, Paincakes are pretty great. These little ice packs stick to you for optimal recovery and you can just pop them back in the freezer for the next time you run up the stairs a little too hard and sprain your ankle.
(Not like I've ever done that.)
Healthy doesn't always mean gym membership
An intense, sweat-inducing workout can feel good, but it's not always about the physical. You may look good but it's about the mental part, too. Whenever I'm not feeling up to a 10-minute sit-up routine, I'll go for a long walk, break out the skateboard, or even play soccer (hence the retired athlete).
Finding a hobby to do can help make the "getting healthy" lifestyle a bit easier. You can get the exercise you want while still doing something other than lunging your way to the bathroom just to get toned legs.
(Shameless plug: We know just the place to get some pain relief if your activity gets a little intense.)
Check out these gadgets
With technology today, there are so many apps to use when you're working out (or to remind you when you're not). It really pushes me to stay on top of my workout (only because the notification won't go away). There are apps you can set up to remind you, apps that keep track of your heart rate, and even apps that track your workout if you run or take a certain number of steps per day.
If the hi-tech apps aren't up your alley, we have other products to keep you in the hi-tech-healthy circle. We have smart blood pressure monitors, TENS units, and a bunch of other connected pain-relief products, so getting healthy can be a tech lovers paradise, too!
Here's to a great year
Maybe it's a little late in January to still be saying, "happy new year," but I'm going to do it anyway. Even though some of those resolutions might be on the back burner already, it's not too late to set new ones.
If you're sold on my Apartment Hustle workout, it's available for the low price of $50 a month (just kidding). But, you can get the best workout and healthy lifestyle no matter what gym you go to, or what at-home substitutes you decide to take on.
It's all about doing what makes your body feel good and if the pain or injuries you thought were gone three years ago (oops, that's me too) we're here for the pain relief you need.
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.
Other eligible eye and ear care
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.
The weather is getting cold. But that doesn't stop athletes and active types from enduring the elements to get outdoors. That's why we recommend KT Tape Pro Precut Strips, which are specifically built to withstand harsh conditions, such as humidity, extreme cold and extended exposure to water.
In other words, the synthetic microfiber tape can be equally beneficial to skaters, hockey players, biathlon participants, or competitors in virtually any other physical activity, indoors or out.
While standard athletic tape has been used for years, FSA-eligible KT Tape Pro is made from a highly flexible, elastic material that not only supports sore joints and muscles, but also lifts the skin to ease pressure on these areas, improving movement while reducing pain.
KT Tape limits your range of motion and constricts muscle movement to promote a speedy recovery. However, due to its ability to adjust and flex around an individual's body, it can give users -- from weekend gardeners to world-class athletes -- more support and agility during physical activity.
Full disclosure: Our staff loves KT Tape products, even for everyday use navigating the streets of New York City. It keeps us pain-free and supported through the harshest conditions, and through including showers, humidity, cold, even dips in the pool.
Each box comes with 20 precut strips of 100% synthetic tape. One hard plastic carrying case with twist on lids to keep your tape in good shape in your gym bag or purse. And the Quick Start Guide with step-by-step instructions will show you how to make the most of KT Tape, on any kind of injury.
More from KT Tape
Specially engineered to provide more effective, comfortable support for weak or injured knees.
Sean and Brad ring in the new year by discussing the best ways users can make the most of their tax-free accounts and budget appropriately throughout their plan years.
If you want more ideas, head over to our shop, to find 4,000+ guaranteed-eligible health care items, with something for any budget.
As you probably know from looking around our site, the 12/31 deadline is just about here. It's an exciting time for us, of course. But it's also an exciting time for FSA owners who have the chance to make the most of their tax-free funds, rather than forfeiting them due to the "use it or lose it" rule.
Whether we're reminding FSA holders of upcoming deadlines, or just sharing some information about these tax-free accounts, "use it or lose it" has become a tagline for our entire team. And, because we offer a growing selection of 4,000+ FSA-eligible products, people usually don't have any trouble using their FSA funds.
Still, with the deadline here, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit the most common questions about FSA funds -- what happens to the money that does get lost? No one likes losing money, no matter the amount. So we thought it was a good idea to remind people of what happens if they end up on the wrong side of the "use it or lose it" rule.
Let's cut to the chase…
You may not like this answer, but your unused FSA money returns to your employer. These funds can be used in a variety of ways, which we'll get to in a bit. Now, before you and your coworkers march down the hall with flaming torches, realize they're not the "bad guys" in this scenario. In fact, they're on your side, and are even taking some risks to make FSAs available to employees.
See it from your company's perspective
It's true -- your employer assumes a good amount of financial risk when you sign up for an FSA. That's because even though you get to contribute to your account little by little, through regular paycheck deductions, you actually have access to the entire year's allocation, right from the beginning of the plan year.
Who's fronting that money? You guessed it, the employers. And they're on the hook for any losses if you leave the company before making a full year's contribution.
In other words, if your plan year begins on January 1, and you opt for an expensive FSA-eligible procedure that week, you can use the entire year's allocation to pay for it tax-free. But if you quit a month later, your company is forced to eat that balance.
So, lost FSA funds from other employees can be used to offset these losses. It's not what your employers want to do. But it's certainly better for them than having to absorb the entire loss.
So where does it go from there?
While we certainly can't fault companies for wanting to protect themselves from potential financial losses, some choose to reinvest this "found" money into its people. No, they can't just refund you the exact amount you lost. But there are several ways they can share the wealth and ease the sting of lost funds.
Though it's rare, companies could choose to give the money back to its employees directly. It's not as simple as refunding the exact amount lost to each person with an FSA, but employers might opt to pool the collective losses and distribute back to plan participants in a fair, uniform way.
(To be clear, any money returned to participants must be distributed to ALL participants -- not just those who lost funds that year.)
2. Administrative fees
Companies may choose to save these excess funds and use them as a way to offset the costs and fees involved in providing FSAs. By doing so, they can make it easier to offer these accounts to employees.
In this "worst case" scenario, your money ends up used in a way we outlined above. There is good news though -- your employer may offer a few options to help extend your funds and avoid losing them altogether.
1. Grace period
Many employers offer an FSA grace period -- something we've discussed quite a bit in our Learning Centers -- which gives you an extra 2.5 months to use their funds from the previous plan year. For example, if your plan year ends on December 31, you have until March 15 of the following year to use those funds before risking a loss.
Another common FSA feature is the rollover option, which allows you to carry up to $500 of your FSA dollars to the following year, eliminating any last-minute rushes or lost funds.
Like we said at the beginning of the article, no one likes losing money, which is why we encourage users to create a budget and spend accordingly to meet your family's health care needs. But on the off chance you miss your FSA deadline, know that the money is safe, and might even find its way back to you before long.
Adventure Medical Mountain Weekender First Aid Kit
NeilMed Naspira Filter Replacements - 30ct
From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Sean and Brad are back to dive deeper into the 2019 FSA Deadline, bringing some handy spending tips and recommendations, no matter the size of your remaining balance. It's a fun episode, offering holiday wishes and FSA deadline know-how, so you can go into 2020 with a zero balance and a plan for the year to come.
They also dive into FSA Store's Know Your Balance Challenge, where you can enter your info to potentially win one of three $880 prizes, to throw the New Year's Eve party of your dreams!
(If you want more ideas, head over to our shop, to find 4,000+ guaranteed-eligible health care items, with something for any budget...)
Brad and Sean's Product Picks of the Month
Amazing (and amazingly quiet) vibration therapy you can wear everyday. We all get achy feet from time to time, and that's when vibration therapy can help.
The perfect companion for your medications. The Bluetooth thermometer is easy-to-use, compact, and connects to your smartphone
Things are getting festive here at FSAstore.com! Not only are the holidays in full swing, but for everyone who has a 12/31 deadline, there's just a few weeks left to save big on 100% guaranteed-eligible products.
Because this is the most wonderful time of the year, we thought we'd give everyone a friendly reminder ... in the most jolly way possible. Introducing the FSAstore.com Carolers...
Remember, if you have a 12/31 FSA deadline, shop FSAstore.com for thousands of guaranteed FSA-eligible health products!