Many employers offer a flexible spending account as an optional part of their employee benefits packages. Not only can an FSA help you budget for medical expenses, but it can also decrease your taxable income.
When you set up a flexible spending account, a set amount of money comes out of your paycheck before taxes and goes into the account. Currently, you can put up to $2,600 per year into your FSA.
While you can’t use the money toward your insurance premiums, you can pay for copays, deductibles and prescriptions with the funds in your account. Even if you don’t think you will rack up that many visits to the doctor in a year, you still might benefit from a flexible spending account.
Along with standard medical expenses, you can use your FSA toward a number of health-related costs, such as the following rather surprising items.
The practice of strategically inserting fine needles into specific points on the skin is known to relieve pain. Acupuncture may also help with constipation, dementia, addiction and more. If your doctor deems it necessary, acupuncture is FSA-eligible.
Along with contact lenses you need for medical purposes (as opposed to cosmetic lenses), products and materials you use to care for contacts are FSA-eligible.
3. Medical Conferences
If you attend a medical conference concerning the chronic illness of a dependent, your spouse or yourself, you can use FSA funds to cover amounts paid for admission and transportation.
4. Paint Removal
Buy an older home? If there is lead-based paint that is peeling, cracking or within reach of a child, the cost of removing the paint can be included. Unfortunately, paying to repaint the surface is not.
5. Pregnancy Tests
It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping for your first baby or expecting your fifth. You can use money from your flexible spending account to cover the cost of an at-home pregnancy test kit.
6. Service Animals
If you qualify for a guide dog or other service animal, the costs of purchasing, training and caring for your special pet are FSA-eligible. This generally includes expenses such as food, grooming and veterinary care.
7. Special Education
If your child’s doctor recommends seeking a tutor or enrolling your child in a school to help with mental or physical impairments, you can include costs such as fees, tuition, meals and lodging.
8. Smoking Cessation
Although over-the-counter drugs designed to help you stop smoking are not FSA-eligible, the costs for a program to help you quit are.
You can pay for expenses related to transportation primarily for (and essential to) medical care with your flexible spending account. This may include bus, plane, taxi or train fares; ambulance service; car expenses; parking fees and tolls.
10. Weight Loss
If your doctor says losing weight will treat a diagnosed disease, you can pay for membership fees for a weight reduction group with your flexible spending account. You cannot use the funds for gym memberships, diet foods or weight loss help for the sake of appearance, general health or well-being.
Want to find out about other things you can pay for using your flexible spending account? Check out this publication from the IRS.
You should also check with your employer’s benefits administrator, as they might require certain types of supporting documentation to approve any expenses.