If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), it can save you big bucks in unexpected ways. Offered through your employer, an FSA account allows you to set aside pretax money to pay for health-related expenses like copayments, deductibles, some drugs and other healthcare costs, according to the HealthCare.gov website. Putting your money into an FSA account also reduces your taxable income, which can lower your tax bill.
Don't confuse an FSA with a Health Savings Account (HSA), though. Distinct from the FSA, this account is separate from your employer and you can keep it regardless of where you work. Like the FSA, contributions to your HSA are pretax and lower your taxable income. HSA dollars never expire, but most of your FSA dollars must typically be used within a calendar year.
If you want to get the most out of your benefits, check out these surprising items that are FSA-eligible and learn how to use your FSA to save on healthcare costs.
Did you know you can get acupuncture for your aches and pains using FSA dollars? If you're suffering from back pain, neck pain, migraine headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia or infertility, acupuncture treatments can be an effective solution.
The 3,000-year-old healing technique of traditional Chinese medicine is now mainstream and supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Acupuncture is best known for its ability to treat pain.
Affordably priced, you can obtain an acupuncture treatment in a variety of well-regarded medical settings. The average cost for a routine session ranges from $50 to $70, according to CostHelper.com. Some healthcare plans also cover acupuncture.
People who have dental problems might be pleased to know that dental implants are covered under an FSA plan. These replacement teeth are secured to your jawbone and are indistinguishable from real teeth. Unlike dentures, you never take them out.
WebMD lauded the durability, convenience, comfort and appearance of dental implants. Spending your FSA dollars on dental implants can be well worth it for people who have problem teeth. In general, these replacement teeth have a 98 percent success rate, according to WebMD.
Nutritional supplements might be FSA-eligible expenses under certain conditions, and is a great example of why it's important to know how your FSA works. Ordinarily, you can't pop into your local nutrition store and pick up a can of protein powder or a bottle of supplements and pay for them with FSA money.
However, if your physician diagnoses you with a condition and recommends these products as treatment for it, the supplements qualify as FSA-eligible items, according to the IRS. Be sure to get your medical professional's prescription in writing before attempting to pay for the supplements with your FSA funds.
Stop Smoking Programs
Clearly, smoking is bad for your health. Nicotine, found in tobacco, might be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, the CDC found that 68 percent of U.S. adult cigarette smokers wanted to quit smoking.
You can't just grab a pack of Nicorette at Walgreens and pay with your FSA money, though. To qualify for FSA funds, you must first get a prescription from your doctor for the smoking cessation program.
A New Television
Television-related costs might be deductible from your FSA funds. But don't think you can just go out, buy a new big-screen TV and pay for it with your FSA. There are certain caveats for this benefit.
If you have a hearing disability, you might be able to deduct the cost of a TV for the hearing-impaired or for TV-related hearing devices, according to FSAStore.com.
If you've been contemplating laser eye surgery and have money left in your FSA account, now might be the time to schedule the procedure. These vision correction procedures are fast and only require local anesthesia.
The IRS allows you to use FSA money to pay for eye surgery to correct vision, such as laser eye surgery or radial keratotomy. Laser eye surgery changes the shape of your cornea and allows you to see without your glasses or contact lenses.
Due to its elective nature, insurance doesn't usually cover this treatment. So if you have poor eyesight, paying with funds from your FSA can reduce the overall cost.
If you're looking to shed a few pounds, don't expect to cover all Jenny Craig meals or Weight Watchers frozen dinners with your FSA. But if your physician diagnoses you with obesity, hypertension or heart disease and recommends a weight-loss program, certain related expenses are deductible.
After your doctor recommends weight loss, you can deduct weight-loss meeting fees, although not your gym membership fees, and the cost of special food that exceeds the price of a normal diet, according to the IRS.
As a rule of thumb, when considering whether to use your FSA for medical-related expenses, first check with the IRS website for FSA-eligible items. To be safe, assume that you'll need a medical practitioner's prescription to ensure you're properly covered by your FSA funds.