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How to spend your FSA money before it expires at the end of the year

Sarah Gantz | (TNS) The Philadelphia Inquirer

A fitness tracker, gym membership, ergonomic chair, an air conditioner — if you didn’t know your FSA or HSA may cover these items, you may not be getting the biggest bang for your buck out of these popular health care savings accounts.

Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts both allow people to squirrel away pretax money to spend on eligible health care expenses.

Some key differences: While HSAs allow you to carry over any unused contributions into the next year, the balance in health FSAs often expires at the end of the year. Any money unspent in FSAs may be lost.

As the end of the year approaches, now is the time to review your accounts and spend down balances that won’t roll over.

“Inflation is doing a number on us, and if there’s something we can do to save on health care, that’s important,” said Divya Sangameshwar, insurance expert at Value Penguin, a consumer finance website.

Here’s what to know about these plans and how to get the most out of them:

What is an HSA?An HSA is a pretax savings account in which the balance rolls over from one year to the next. Only people with high-deductible health plans (a plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for individual coverage) are eligible for HSAs.

These accounts can help pay for qualified health expenses, including co-pays, prescription drugs, medical equipment, and over-the-counter medication.

In 2022, you can stash up to $3,650 in an HSA if you have an individual plan and up to $7,300 for a family plan. Any money you don’t use will carry over to the next. You own your HSA, which means it stays with you if you change jobs.

What is an FSA?An FSA is a pretax savings account in which only a portion of the balance may be carried over from one year to the next.

Similar to HSAs, FSAs allow people to save pretax money to cover eligible expenses. Unlike HSAs, these accounts are owned by your employer, who sets the rules for their use.

The FSA contribution limit for 2022 is $2,850, the money generally must be used by the end of the year. Employers may give employees a grace period of up to two and a half months to spend the remainder of their balance, and may allow employees to carry over up to $570 in 2022.

If you leave your job with money left in your FSA, you lose it.

How can I spend my FSA balance before it expires?—Go to the doctor. Schedule the routine checkups and tests you’ve been putting off all year. Now is a great time to get that thing that’s been bothering you checked out.

—Stock the medicine cabinet. Over-the-counter medications and first aid supplies are covered by most FSAs. Check whether your plan covers feminine hygiene products, thermometers, sunscreen and blood pressure monitors. Refill any prescription medications.

—Get a doctor’s note. With a letter of medical necessity from your doctor, your FSA may cover a gym membership, a fitness tracker, an ergonomic chair and even an air conditioner.

—Check the list. has a searchable database of eligible products. Browse to find items you use that you may not realize are covered.

FSA accounts often come with a debit card that you can use to pay for eligible expenses directly. You can also submit receipts for reimbursement.

The list of covered services may vary by plan, so check with yours before going on a health care shopping spree.

Source: Orange County Register

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