Do Not Lose Your Remaining FSA Funds

by Lynn B. Johnson on December 7, 2009

fsa-fundsHere at Wallet Blog, we get lots of PR pitches. It’s flattering, really. But one company I never expected to hear from, especially in November, is Coppertone. Nevertheless, it’s fun to be surprised (especially as I just winter-proofed my double-paned windows against the encroaching Nor’easters).

Their pitch was helpful and informative, and I live to be helpful and informative, so let’s talk about some little-known ways to maximize your FSA spending.

The average American family spends $2,000 on personal health-care expenses each year. If you contribute that amount to a Flexible Spending Account, you can reap a federal tax savings of more than $500 (assuming the average 27% tax bracket). The kicker, though, is that if you don’t use all of the funds in one calendar year, the money vanishes. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you; try spending some of it on these handy, healthful items.

Hand Sanitizer: Does anybody NOT have a pump-bottle of hand sanitizer on their desk anymore? Not only can you purchase a desktop version, but there are also portable formats as well. A recent study shows that only about 50% of middle-school and high-school students wash their hands regularly. Pack your kids off to school with an FSA-approved sanitizer spritz and wave bye-bye to H1N1.

Cold Remedies: FSA often reimburses for over-the-counter cold remedies, including cough drops and syrups, throat lozenges, and multi-symptom cold medicines. Buy now and avoid the rush, particularly if you require a formulation that doesn’t exacerbate high blood pressure.

Sunscreen: You knew this was coming, right? Nevertheless, I remember from my Girl Scout Handbook that it’s important to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen year-round to protect against UVA and UVB rays, and, thankfully, sunscreens with SFP ratings of 30 and above are typically covered by FSA. SPF moisturizers are not covered, though, so try to find a sunscreen product that is lightweight enough for year-round, everyday use.

Gym-Bag Essentials: Keep your athletes healthy and fit by spending your flex dollars on bandages, antibiotic ointments, and even anti-fungal athlete’s foot treatments. Maximize your FSA dollars by purchasing a variety — boo-boos come in all shapes and sizes, as do bandages.

Pretty helpful, eh? I’m wondering who we’ll hear from next. Kraft, maybe?


Odysseas Papadimitriou
According to CIGNA's website -- hand sanitizers are reimbursable
December 10 at 07:23 am
Hand sanitizers are not an eligible medical expense despite some retailers' sites and one large plan sponsors list of eligible expenses. The IRS provided some informal guidance confirming this statement this summer. Just want to be careful that your readers do not go out and purchase it only to find it ineligible!
December 9 at 11:34 am

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