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Consumer Archive

Consumer

Flexible spending account deadline draws near

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NEW YORK (12/14/09)—Dec. 31 marks the eve of a new year. It’s also the deadline for many with medical flexible spending accounts (FSA) to spend funds allocated in 2009 (online.wsj.com Dec. 6). FSAs are provided by employers and enable workers to set aside pretax dollars for qualifying out-of-pocket medical expenses and purchases. You must use FSA money before the deadline or forfeit the balance. FSA plans vary, so it’s important to review what you can use the funds for and confirm the deadline for your plan; some extend 2009 allocations into 2010. There are several practical ways to use your funds, even at the last minute. Here are some suggestions from USA Today personal finance writer, Sandra Block: (usatoday.com Dec. 1).
* Prescriptions. Do you receive your prescriptions through the mail? You may be able to use your FSA to order an advance supply. * Flu shots. Haven’t had your flu shot? Now is a great time to get it if you have to visit a doctor or clinic and cough up a co-pay to receive one. Use your FSA to cover the expense of your co-payment. * Smoking cessation. Typically, you can use your FSA dollars for items, such as special gum and nicotine, designed to help you quit tobacco. * Sunscreen. It may be winter but, depending on where you live or if you’re planning a trip to a sunny location, sunscreen may be an excellent use of your FSA. Check what SPF level your plan requires for the sunscreen to be an eligible expense.