By Lisa Zamosky
Flexible Spending Accounts, or FSAs, are offered as an employee benefit, and allow you to set aside pre-tax salary dollars to pay for medical expenses, such as deductibles, co-pays, dental treatment, and medical treatments not covered by insurance.
A requirement of these accounts is that you decide at the time of enrollment how much money you’ll set aside for the year. FSA money must be spent within the benefit year or the funds are forfeited. Most companies, however, do offer an extension period, which can stretch until mid-March (check with your plan administrator to learn how much time you have to exhaust your account).
As a result of the Affordable Care Act, FSAs will undergo a series of changes, some of which have already occurred, and others that are about to take effect this upcoming January.
If you still have time to decide how much money to commit to your FSA account for 2013, some of these changes should factor into your plans.
No more OTC drugs. Many people in the past have used FSA funds to purchase over-the-counter-medications, such as Tylenol or Sudafed. Starting last year, the money is no longer allowed to be used for that purpose, unless your doctor writes you a prescription.
Limits to FSA contributions: Currently, the maximum amount of money you’re allowed to set aside in your FSA has been dictated by your employer. Most cap employee contributions at a maximum of ,000. That’s changing.
Starting in January, 2013, the health reform law will limit your contribution to ,500 per year.
No need for preventive care costs: Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive health care services, such as annual checkups, mammograms and colonoscopies, are available to most people with no out-of-pocket costs. If you’re accustomed to factoring in the cost of these services when deciding how much to put into your FSA account, you’ll want to recalculate.
Contraceptives: The same is true of contraceptives. Although there are exceptions being made for employers with a religious affiliation, most employer health plans are now required to cover the full cost of contraceptives.
Starting in 2013, there’s no longer the need to set aside money to cover the cost of your birth control pills.
Want more detail about what is and isn’t covered by FSAs? You can view a list of FSA-qualified expenses by logging onto the FSA Store.
What do you most use FSA money for? Will these changes impact you in 2013? Please share your experience in the comments section below.