The most common type of flexible spending account, the medical expense FSA (also medical FSA or health FSA), is similar to a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement account (HRA). However, while HSAs and HRAs are almost exclusively used as components of a consumer-driven health care plan, medical FSAs are commonly offered with more traditional health plans as well. In addition, funds in an HSA are not lost when the plan year is over, unlike funds in an FSA. Paper forms or an FSA debit card, also known as a Flexcard, may be used to access the account funds.
Check with Your Employer – Not all Plans Are Alike
Employees and employers alike need to be aware of the “use it or lose it” rules that accompany FSAs. Generally, employees must use all of their FSA funds by the end of the plan year or forfeit any remaining funds. However, two exceptions — the carryover option and the grace period — can give employees extra time to use their contributions, if added to the plan design. Employers must pick only one option to offer.
First, according to the IRS, the carryover option allows an employee to transfer $500 of unused contributions from one plan year to the next. For example, if an employee has $500 of unused contributions in 2018, then he or she may carry those funds over into the 2019 plan year.
Second, with the grace period option, an employee has 2 1/2 months after the end of the plan year in which to use his or her unused contributions. For example, if an employee has unused contributions at the end of a plan year (December 31, 2018), then he or she must use those contributions by the following March 15, 2019, or risk forfeiting them.
Checking Your Balance
Most employers use a third-party company to run the employee flexible spending account. Sign into your account and review your FSA balance.
If you have not spent all of your FSA funds make an appointment.