Financial Planning
The March 15th FSA Deadline: Maximizing Your Healthcare Spending

The March 15th FSA Deadline: Maximizing Your Healthcare Spending

Christopher Johns
March 13, 2024

As the March 15th deadline for Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contributions looms, many of us scramble to understand the best ways to utilize these pre-tax dollars. An FSA, offered by employers, allows employees to allocate a portion of their earnings towards healthcare expenses, reducing their taxable income. With the deadline to spend these funds fast approaching, it's crucial to maximize your account's potential.

This post delves into both the well-known and the lesser-known ways you can use your FSA funds. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of how to make the most of your account, ensuring you don't leave money on the table.

Understanding Your FSA

Before we dive into the spending strategies, let's revisit what an FSA is and how it functions. An FSA allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses, effectively reducing your taxable income. However, FSAs are "use it or lose it" accounts – any funds not used by the deadline (typically March 15 of the following year) are forfeited.

Keep in mind, a FSA is different from a HSA (Health Spending Account.) If you have a HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) you likely have a Health Savings Account which does not have a spending deadline.

Common Uses for Your FSA Funds

Most people are aware that they can use their FSA funds for copayments, deductibles, prescription medications, and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs with a doctor's prescription. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and LASIK surgery are also popular expenditures. But to truly maximize your account, you should consider a broader range of eligible expenses.

Not-So-Common Eligible Expenses

1. Acupuncture and Chiropractic Services:

While often overlooked, alternative treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic care are eligible for FSA reimbursement. These therapies can provide relief for a variety of conditions, offering a different approach to wellness.

2. Travel Vaccinations:

Planning a trip abroad? Your FSA can cover the cost of necessary vaccinations. This not only protects your health during your travels but also allows you to use your FSA funds for an essential preventative measure.

3. Psychological Counseling:

Mental health services, including counseling and therapy, are eligible for FSA reimbursement. In today's fast-paced world, taking care of your mental health is just as important as maintaining physical health.

4. Breast Pumps and Lactation Supplies:

New parents can use FSA funds for breast pumps and related supplies. These items can be costly, making FSA reimbursement a valuable benefit for families.

5. First Aid Kits:

A well-stocked first aid kit is essential in every home and vehicle. Thankfully, these kits and their contents are eligible FSA expenses.

6. Sunscreen:

With skin cancer rates on the rise, protection from harmful UV rays is crucial. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is an eligible expense, encouraging you to prioritize skin health.

7. Lead-Based Paint Removal:

If a child in the home has been diagnosed with lead poisoning, the costs to remove lead-based paints can be considered eligible.

8. Special Education:

Tuition for special education services, including teaching Braille to a visually impaired child or teaching sign language to a deaf child, can be eligible expenses.

9. Weight Loss Programs:

If prescribed by a physician for a specific disease, including obesity, hypertension, or heart disease, you may be able to use your FSA to cover program fees and certain related expenses.

10. Wigs:

If a person has lost all of his or her hair due to a medical condition or treatment, the cost of a wig can be reimbursed through an FSA.

Keep abreast of the full list of eligible expenses, which can be found on your FSA provider's website or the IRS website. This knowledge can help you make informed decisions throughout the year.

Plan Ahead:

Consider your family's health care needs for the upcoming year and allocate your FSA contributions accordingly. Remember, it's better to be conservative in your estimates to avoid losing funds.

Keep Meticulous Records:

Save all receipts and documentation related to your FSA expenditures. This will be invaluable for reimbursement requests and tax purposes.

As we approach the March 15th FSA deadline, taking the time to understand the scope of eligible expenses can result in significant savings. Whether it's a common medical expense or a lesser-known eligible item, every dollar counts. By leveraging the full potential of your FSA, you can ensure that these pre-tax dollars contribute effectively to your financial well-being.

For more insights on managing your finances and maximizing your benefits, stay tuned to our blog. Our goal is to empower you with the knowledge to make informed financial decisions, enhancing your overall financial health.