Remember to Use Up Your 2008 Healthcare Flexible Spending Account Funds

Many employers offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) that can be used to pay for healthcare expenses not covered by health insurance. If you participate in one, the money that you have withheld in the account has use-it-or-lose-it status. In some plans, the deadline for spending funds contributed in 2008 was 12-31-08, but many plans have taken advantage of an IRS provision that allows prior-year FSA funds to be used up to 2.5 months after yearend. The deadline this year is March 16th (the 15th is a Sunday). FSA funds can be used to pay for co-payments, deductibles, or other expenses not covered by your health insurance. In addition to prescription drugs, the IRS has ruled that FSA funds can be used for certain over-the-counter medications. A number of online over-the-counter drug vendors provide information at their sites regarding which medicines qualify as FSA-reimbursable expenses. Medications for acne, cold medications, pain relievers, and a wide variety of other items can be purchased to use up remaining funds in your account (the IRS frowns on “stockpiling,” though, so don’t buy thirty bottles of Beano®). Be sure to maintain receipts showing the items purchased so that you can substantiate the eligibility of your expenses. Any funds not used by the deadline are lost to you, so if you’re not sure when your FSA’s deadline is and you have money left from last year’s funds, check to be certain.

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Thomas Fisher, CFP®

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