8 ways employees can use their flexible spending accounts before 2012

Review list of eligible expenses Review list of eligible expenses

A 2010 survey from Save Smart, Spend Healthy found that nearly 80% of household decision makers had trouble identifying expenses they could purchase with a health care FSA. There may be a number of items employees need to buy or have already purchased that are eligible for reimbursement. Circulate a list of health care and dependent eligible expenses.

Request prescriptions for OTC medications Request prescriptions for OTC medications

If employees were directed by their doctors to use over-the-counter medications this year to treat an illness or for wellness purposes, they can be reimbursed for these expenses through the FSA as long as they have a prescription from their doctor.

Submit any outstanding receipts Submit any outstanding receipts

Encourage employees to submit any outstanding receipts for health care expenses such as prescriptions or doctor’s appointments or dependent care expenses such as day care or summer camp.

Purchase medical supplies Purchase medical supplies

If employees need medical supplies on a regular basis, it can be helpful to have a backup supply on hand. This includes contact lenses and solution, prescription glasses and even band-aids.

Schedule routine medical appointments Schedule routine medical appointments

Encourage employees to get routine check-ups with their physician, dentist and optometrist. If some employees see specialty providers, such as a chiropractor or acupuncturist, encourage them to get needed care before the end of the year as well.

Get a flu shot and vaccinations Get a flu shot and vaccinations

Encourage employees and everyone in their household to get a flu shot and to ensure dependents are up-to-date with vaccinations.

Invest in wellness Invest in wellness

Smoking cessation is an eligible expense, as is weight loss counseling, as long as receipts are accompanied by a letter of medical necessity.

Log your miles Log your miles

Gas and transportation fees to and from eligible medical, dental and vision appointments are eligible for reimbursement, as are visits to the drug store or pharmacy to pick up medications. The mileage rate for 2011 was 19 cents a mile for Jan. 1 to June 30, and is 23.5 cents a mile for July 1 to Dec. 31.

For more on FSAs For more on FSAs

Listen to a podcast here about how brokers and companies can help employees use their FSA dollars better.

As 2011 comes to an end, it’s time for employees with health care and dependent care flexible spending accounts to use up their remaining balances before the end of their plan year, when any leftover money is forfeited. Here are eight ways your employees can spend down their FSAs before 2012, courtesy of Save Smart, Spend Healthy.

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