Can someone explain (FSA) flex spending acct to me?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by curlyjbs, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. curlyjbs

    curlyjbs <font color=cc0066>1 Tequila...2 Tequila...3 Tequi

    Jan 3, 2001
    :confused3 My employer is offering this in 2013. Not familiar with it at all. We live in NJ if that matters. Thanks!
  2. zurgswife

    zurgswife WDW is my Shangrala...and I'm is bett

    Jan 9, 2000
    You agree to have X amount of dollars taken out of your check (before taxes). You are then able to use a Debit card to pay for prescriptions, OTC meds with this card. The thing you need to make sure is that if you aren't sure how much you spend per year always under estimate; the amounts don't roll over if you don't use it all by the end of the year.

    If you agree for 2500 and are paid twice a month..about 96 dollars will be deducted every pay period. Yet, you are not limited to what you have in the account to pay something. At least that has been my experience. If I had a prescription bill that was 120 dollars but only had 80 in the account but there were still many pay periods left in the year I would be able to make the purchase and then next deduction would account for the negative balance.

    Hopefully that makes sense.
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  4. SC Minnie

    SC Minnie <font color=purple>Are we there yet???<br><font co

    May 18, 2001
    We can also use ours for dependent care such as child day care. Some people here have used the FSA for Lasik surgery and the amounts not covered for glasses or dental work if they knew those expenses were going the be coming.

    As zurgswife said be mindful of how much you decide to put in there. If you have anything left at the end of the year you lose it. It doesn't roll over and you can't get it back.
  5. Paticake

    Paticake DIS Veteran

    Sep 1, 2002
    Love it for Dr. visits, dentists, deductables and prescriptions. Mine is on a Mastercard. Sometimes you are required to submit receipts
  6. mapmakerj

    mapmakerj DIS Veteran

    Feb 18, 2004
    Your acct may vary as to what you can use it for but I can tell you what ours covers. It is an account that you can deposit pre-tax money in to pay for some non-insurance covered medical expenses and sometime childcare. We can use ours for any co-pays for doctor or dentist visits, co-pays for prescriptions, some over-the-counter meds, medical procedures not covered by insurance (my laser eye surgery) and for daycare expenses. We saved 100's of $$ on my lasik due to paying for surgery with money we were not taxed on. You, however, need to figure out how much you will actually spend on those things in a year and not over estimate because if you do not withdraw all the money in the account by year's end you will lose it. You give your employer a total of what you want put into the account and they divide it by the number of paychecks you will receive in the year and then they take that amount out of each check and deposit it into your account before they tax your income. This works out well if you have monthly meds you know you will need or a fixed amount for daycare. We do not have a debit card, we pay out of pocket and submit our receipts and they send us a check.
  7. powelweb

    powelweb Mouseketeer

    Mar 16, 2009
    You have to estimate carefully for the year, as if you don't spend it by the deadline, you will lose the money from your account.

    Also, I prefer to use my own credit card to get the points, and then submit receipts for reimbursement online which is quick and i have it direct deposited to our bank account.
  8. cyndik1111

    cyndik1111 DIS Veteran

    Oct 17, 2008
    I've been using one for years in NY. Starting Jan 1 they take out a pre-determained amount of $ from each pay check (before taxes). Then every time I (or my DH/DD) have a copay for doctor's visit, prescriptions, etc I either use the "debit card" that they provide, or save the receipt and submit it to the flex account company. If you use the debit card (not all pharmacies/stores/doctor's offices takes them) you have to save the receipts. They can audit you. I have been audited once.
    If you pay out of pocket, then submit the receipt and they will either send you a check or deposit into your checking account (if you have that set up). Our Flex Company takes FOREVER to reimburse. So I like to use the debit card when I can.

    I have used the account to pay for eyeglasses (Rx) & contacts, medical supplies that I had a Rx for, and even orthodontist costs. They use to let you use it for over the counter medicines like motrin, but they changed the rules.

    It is definitely worth doing. You just need to have a good ballpark of what you spend each year. Like a PP said, underestimate. If you don't use it by the end of the year, you loose it. I always buy eyeglasses in December.

    A few years ago, I bought expensive Rx eyeglasses in January. Only a few dollars had been taken out of my check. I submitted the receipt right away, and got the full amount within 1 month. I then had a negative balance until my paycheck deductions paid it back.
  9. kellia

    kellia DIS Veteran

    Oct 11, 2005
    You can't use it for OTC meds anymore, unless you have a RX from your doctor for them. That ended last year (2011). It can be dr visits, RX, vision, eyeglasses/contacts, dental, etc. We have a flex card for both medical and daycare. This will be the first year we (knock on wood!!) will have some extra on the medical flex account, so I will just buy some extra contacts in December!
  10. tripletots

    tripletots DIS Veteran

    Jul 9, 2006
    It also covers bandaids and contact solution and contact storage cases. However, I don't know if that also changes in 2013.
  11. curlyjbs

    curlyjbs <font color=cc0066>1 Tequila...2 Tequila...3 Tequi

    Jan 3, 2001
    Thank you all! I get it now. ;)
  12. yoopermom

    yoopermom Come join Bravo by the fire...

    Sep 27, 2000
    There's a huge difference in convenience between whether your company actually issues you an FSA debit card vs having to pay it yourself, then submit it for reimbursement. Up until this year, we had the card, and I had enough withdrawn to meet our out of pockets and deductibles, which was WONDERFUL (since we doctor quite a bit). This year they "backtracked" to me having to submit for reimbursement, and it's just too slow to even be worthwhile.

  13. furb & dez

    furb & dez City Bear Jamboreers

    Jan 18, 2011
    One important thing is to make sure this is actually an FSA and not an HSA. The two have very different rules.
  14. Fire14

    Fire14 Spartan Living in land of Buckeyes.

    Dec 19, 2001
    Your telling me I can use FSA to buy new contact lens cases? I need to go on shopping spree:) I have used ours for copays, Contacts and glasses, plus contact solution. Dh has used it for drug copays, and who knows what else. I so wish I could use it to buy my iron which is techinally ordered by my MD but script is outdated and I'm not paying to be told I'm fat, need this and that and come back in a month so we can spend more of your money.
  15. linda0706

    linda0706 <font color=green>I lick the spoon & bowl when I m

    Jan 5, 2006
    Another advantage that hasn't been made clear previously, is that you are using pre-tax dollars. So if your salary is $50,000 and you put $2500 into your FSA, your taxable income is only $47,500.
  16. TJHutch

    TJHutch Mouseketeer

    May 2, 2004
    301 is a good online source to shop. Click on the FSA tab. It helps take the guess work out of what is covered or not. I especially like it at the end of the year, if I have some dollars left over I need to spend.
  17. tar heel

    tar heel <font color=royalblue>Where will we get our news i

    Aug 17, 1999
    It's really a no-brainer unless you have absolutely no medical expenses. You save whatever your tax bracket is on the money, which is available January 1. You do have to spend it all or you lose it, but most plans give you several months after December 31 to do that. We've never had any left at the end of the year - if we did, we would buy new glasses, stock up on contacts or get dental work done.
  18. ThisIsTheYear

    ThisIsTheYear Too far from Mickey!<br><a href="http://www.disboa

    Mar 7, 2010
    I loved having FSA accounts. It was nice to use the 'Benny card' for prescriptions and the Childcare plan was great. I paid for most of my Disney trip with the reimbursement check.
    Ps - I'm not sure if someone mentioned this before, but to buy OTC products, you need a doctors note. I am also from NJ and I'm not sure if that's a state thing.
  19. friend2Figment

    friend2Figment Mouseketeer

    Feb 11, 2010
    How do they work with ortho treatment? My dd's braces will be on more than a year so do they pay out when they are put on or do I need to submit something when they are taken off? I was hoping to find a way to save $ but was not clear on how it really worked.
  20. dreamin_disney

    dreamin_disney DIS Veteran

    Feb 28, 2008
    I love mine. It has come in very handy. I pay for serives then send in my recipets and get a $$ automatically desposited into my checking acct. It takes about a week to get reinbursed.

    I've used ours for
    -dd's glasses
    -dd's contacts
    -dd's braces
    -dd's advil for pain after certain othro adjustments(RX is needed by Dr.)
    -dd's /hubbys over the counter allergy meds(RX is needed by Dr.)

    -my massage therapy for my back/shouldar pain(RX is needed by Dr.)
    -reflexology plantar faciitiis-right side of body has issues(RX is needed by Dr.)
    -accupuncture( in the past)
    -shoe inserts for arch/ball support(plantar faciitiis)
    -dental mouth guards

    We also use it for
    -Dr. visit co pays
    -RX meds
    -mileage to Dr. visits, massage therapy, chiro etc

    In the past my work limit was
    $2500(this year :yay:)

    Lets just say I max out within 5 months, so far this year Its $2500
    I have $482 left and I have 9 more months to go before the plan starts over
  21. apnep

    apnep Disneyworld Rocks

    Jan 5, 2010
    Watch out. Make sure you read over the rules for ortho. We paid our bill in full for DS8's treatment and I expected to get it all back at once. But what happens is they pay it out over the course of the treatment, so technically if treatment is supposed to last two years, they break down your payments over two years. Be careful how much you set aside for your ortho expenses.

    Regarding OP's original post, not everyone gets a debit card to use for medical with their flex spending account. We don't. We have Aetna. For us, we go to the doctor, pay a co-pay if necessary, or we will be sent a bill after the doctors submits to insurance. Whatever our responsibility is (what's not covered) gets direct deposited into our checking account and then we pay our doctors. Whatever co-pays we have gets direct deposit also. It usual comes in about a week later.

    We love our flex account because it's all pre-tax. Unfortunately, next year, we can only set aside 1/2 the amount because of new rules. We are still going through ortho treatments...

    Good luck!

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