Many insurance plans renew every calendar year and if you have a FSA, you may want to think about using those flex dollars to pay for your eye exam, new eyeglasses or a supply of contact lenses before the year ends. Don’t wait until the last week of December to take care of yourself and your vision.
How Does FSA Work?
What exactly is an FSA? When you sign up for an FSA, money from each paycheck is automatically deposited into an account. You can use this account to pay for health expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. You decide on the amount in advance, and since the contributions aren’t taxed, each dollar goes farther. An FSA can provide you with tax-free dollars to use toward any eye care expenses not covered by your vision insurance plan.
Is there a catch?
Just one: use it or lose it. So don’t wait until the end of the year. Schedule your eye exam anytime in the year, prior to your FSA’s deadline to take advantage of this great benefit. Your FSA can help purchase prescription eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, and contact lenses year-round.
What Can I Buy With My FSA Card?
So what will your FSA plan cover? Every FSA plan is different, so it’s important to take a good look at yours before you start your FSA “shopping.” Typically, an FSA will cover vision expenses like:
- Co-payments and deductibles
- Routine eye exams
- Prescription eyeglasses
- Contact lenses
- Prescription sunglasses
The Doctor Is Your First FSA Step
Wondering where to start? Don’t get overwhelmed by the details; your first step is to schedule an eye exam. Use this visit as a starting point for spending your FSA funds – you’ll learn if you have any vision issues that should be addressed, and if you need new glasses or contact lenses.
Your FSA To-Do List
Understand your plan: Read your FSA guidelines and know what’s covered.
Make an appointment and mark your calendar: Doctors may be busier than usual at the end of the year, so try to schedule earlier if possible.
Keep a record: You may need to provide receipts, so make sure to hold on to any relevant paperwork.
How Does HSA Work (Health Savings Account)?
Depending on your insurance plan, your company may offer an HSA instead of an FSA. Typically an HSA is offered with high deductible insurance plans. Unlike an FSA, the money put into an HSA does not have a use-it-or-lose-it policy.
Instead, it earns interest over time and can be used as a rainy-day fund when healthcare expenses pop up. Just like an FSA, you can usually use HSA dollars to purchase glasses and pay for other vision expenses like eye exams, prescription sunglasses and contacts, so check your policy.
The benefits of an FSA sound appealing – but you didn’t participate this year? Talk to the HR expert in your office to find out when you might be eligible to enroll. Then, you can put FSA money towards health expenses – like new glasses – next year.
December is often the busiest month for optometrists and optical shops. Schedule your exam early, stop by anytime to pick out your next pair of eyeglasses and/or call to order a supply of contact lenses before time runs out!