With only six weeks left in the year, now’s generally the time when employees peek at their flexible spending account balances and think, “Uh oh. How do I spend this money so I don’t lose it?”

When I had an FSA, I always stocked up on Advil and Tylenol, then bought the fanciest pair of eyeglasses I could find.

But there are other (and surely better) ways to spend down an FSA. The experts at Save Smart, Spend Healthy — an education campaign from Wage Works — offer six tips for you pin up in employees’ cubicles to help them zero out their accounts before the year-end deadline:

1. Review the list of eligible expenses. An October Wage Works survey reveals that nearly 80% of household decisionmakers had trouble identifying what expenses were eligible for reimbursement under an FSA.  First things first: Click here to bone up on what’s eligible.

2. Make sure you have the medications and supplies you need. If you regularly take an over-the-counter or prescription medication, be sure you have an adequate supply on hand.  This may also be true for medical supplies, including contact lenses and solution, prescription glasses and even Band-Aids.

Huh. Band-Aids — why didn’t I think of that?

3. Schedule routine appointments. Make sure everyone in your family has received routine check-ups with their physician, dentist and optometrist.  If you see a specialty doctor, such as a chiropractor or acupuncturist, make sure you also visit them before the end of the year.

4. Get a flu shot and vaccinations. Be sure everyone in your household has gotten a flu shot and is up-to-date with vaccinations.

5. Invest in your wellness. Get back on track with your wellness goals now, and you’ll save yourself a lot of future medical expenses.  Smoking cessation expenses are eligible, as is weight-loss counseling with a letter of medical necessity.

6. Log your miles. You can be reimbursed 16.5 cents for mileage to and from eligible medical, dental and vision appointments.

And I know you pros already are on top of this, but just a reminder to communicate the changes to FSAs as a result of health care reform that employees will want to consider now during open enrollment season before electing their 2011 FSA contributions.

Got other sure-fire ways to spend down FSA funds? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit News content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access