How to use your flexible spending account before New Year

by Sonia Azad

Source: WFAA Dallas

DALLAS — For some people, it's forgotten money and soon it could be lost forever.

Time is running out for you to use the money in your flexible spending account, FSA money.

The funds can be used for doctor visits, lab tests and hospital stays.

But as the end of the year approaches, squeezing it all in can be a challenge.

There are a lot of ways to use the funds before December 31. But most importantly, know what kind of account you have and whether or not your employer rolls that money into next year.

"It's a way to put money aside, tax free, to use for your day to day medical needs," said Devon Herrick, a health economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Health savings accounts, HSAs, usually roll over, meaning there's no hurry to spend that money.

But, flexible spending accounts are typically use it or lose it, with a December 31 deadline.

"Some employers are allowed to let you have an extra two and a half months grace period to spend the money or they can allow you to roll over as much as $500 but not both," Herrick said.

In a quick Google search, Herrick showed us ways to use your money up until the end of the year. Some examples include: contact lenses, doctor's appointments, blood work, braces, dental work, vaccines, and prescription drugs. In other words, you can use it for pretty much anything you have or can get a prescription for.

"We're trying to use it before the end of the year," said Tyler Muse, whose wife recently started mapping out their last-minute healthcare FSA money.

"[We scheduled] doctor's visits and eyeglasses, I think my wife got a pair," he said. "She spent as much as she could."

Even if you can't see your doctor, call them and ask for extensions on prescription medicine that you need refilled. That'll be one less thing to pay for in January.

Watch the full story here.