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With less than two months left in the year, many employees are struggling to use up all of their medical benefits.
Research from supplemental insurance provider Aflac revealed that just 16 percent of American workers contribute enough money to their pretax flexible spending accounts (FSA).
Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac, said that as the end of the year approaches, many employees realize too late that they have either exceeded their annual FSA contribution, creating unanticipated post-tax expenditures, or that they have underused their FSA dollars, potentially leaving valuable unused funds on the table.
For those employees who contributed too much to their FSA account and have funds remaining, Tillman offered these suggestions:
- Schedule checkups: Along with your primary care physician, check off visits with important specialists (e.g., optometrist, dentist, dermatologist, gynecologist, etc.)
- Don’t forget about eye care/medical aids:Consider whether you need an additional pair of eyeglasses, prescriptive sunglasses, contact lenses or even orthotic shoe inserts and/or other eligible medical aids.
- Consider purchasing low-cost health care items:Examples of often overlooked FSA-eligible items for year-round or emergency use include first-aid kits, contact solution, thermometers, neck/wrist/joint braces, aspirin and other pain relievers.
- Ask employers about unique FSA offerings:Find out whether Lasik eye surgeries, massages, acupuncture treatments and other unique procedures or treatments are included in FSA plans.
For those workers who have already exhausted their FSA funds, Tillman advises them to:
- Keep all receipts: Employees may be able to present health care expenses that weren’t covered by an FSA to tax accountants for 2012 tax deductions.
- Calculate out-of-pocket costs: Determine what you accrued beyond your allotted FSA amount in order to make smart adjustments to your 2013 FSA during your employer’s open enrollment period.
- Meet with HR managers or benefits decision makers: Make sure to be as informed as possible about all FSA policy options prior to making benefit selections.