What is a Flexible Spending Account?

An FSA program allows you to contribute up to $,2750 per individual (in 2021) for certain out of pocket health care expenses – including almost any eye health product you can think of! FSA contributions are deducted from your paycheck before taxes. The amount you are allowed to contribute could change every year, so check with your employer to make sure you are taking full advantage of this benefit.

How Do I Know if I Have an FSA?

It is estimated that over 60% of employers in the United States offer FSAs to their employees, so the best place to start is with your Human Resources (HR) department or direct supervisor for the details of the plan offered. Although employers can make contributions to your FSA, generally you, the employee, make the contribution through a deduction from your paycheck. Many employers allow you to sign up for an FSA during the annual “Open Enrollment” period for other benefits.

What are Some of the Important Rules?

FSAs can vary by employer, but there are some basic rules that apply across them all for the IRS to approve them.

You can only contribute to an FSA through your employer.

Participation is NOT required.  Employees and employers may fund them, but employers don’t have to.

Each year has a different limit for how much can be contributed. In 2021 it is $2,750.

That money is considered “use it or lose it” by the end of the calendar year. Make sure to estimate out-of-pocket expenses before you decide how much to contribute to your FSA. Sometimes, employers offer a grace period to submit expenses for reimbursement, but in most cases if you don’t use the funds by the end of the year, you lose that money.

Keep your receipts! Expenses are submitted to your employer for reimbursement after they are incurred.

Is an FSA the same as an HSA (Health Savings Account)?

No. Health Savings Accounts are only available to people who have a High Deductible Health Plan.  Check with your employer for additional details.

What Eyecare Items are Covered by an FSA?

Reimbursable expenses related to eye and vision health include:

  • Eye Exam: You can include the amount you pay for eye examinations.
  • Eyeglasses: You can include amounts you pay for eyeglasses and contact lenses needed for medical reasons.
  • Contact Lenses: You can include amounts you pay for contact lenses needed for medical reasons. You can also include the cost of equipment and materials required for using contact lenses, such as saline solution and enzyme cleaner.
  • Eye Surgery: You can include the amount you pay for eye surgery to treat defective vision, such as laser eye surgery or radial keratotomy.

The IRS has a complete list of all expenses eligible for reimbursement here –https://www.irs.gov/publications/p502#en_US_2019_publink1000263793 or search the IRS.gov site for Publication 502.

Now’s the time to take advantage of your FSA. Head to your eye doctor or find one nearby and check out those new frames or stock up on supplies. Don’t forget, if you didn’t take advantage of your employer’s FSA this year, don’t miss out for 2022!  Learn more about health care benefits at healthcare.gov.