Do you have a flexible spending account (FSA), or have you considered one? Here’s everything you need to know about using this health savings plan for all your vision care needs.

It’s that special time of year — that time when you opt in to certain benefits with your employer. One option that you may have available to you as part of your healthcare benefit plan is a flexible spending account, or FSA.

If you’re unfamiliar with an FSA, here are the basics. It’s a special account that allows you to save money (up to $2,650 per year) specifically for certain medical and dental expenses. Not only does it allow you to save for out-of-pocket healthcare costs (those costs not covered by insurance), it also offers tax savings. That’s because the money comes directly out of your paycheck, pre-tax, and gets deposited into your FSA.

What can you use FSA funds for?

Just about every qualified medical expense, not including insurance premiums, is eligible. That means you can spend FSA funds on deductibles and copayments, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and even some medical equipment and supplies (such as crutches and bandages).

Also eligible? Many vision care expenses, including:

  • Prescription glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Reading glasses (prescription or not)
  • Contact lenses, contact solution, and contact lens cases
  • Certain eye drops
  • Annual eye exams
  • Certain eye procedures

Using FSA funds to pay for eye care

There are two ways people are typically able to use funds, depending on the specifics of their plan.

First, you may receive an FSA spending card, which can be used in the same way you would use a debit card. When making purchases, be sure to only use the card for eligible expenses; otherwise, your card could get declined.

If your account does not come with a spending card, then you’ll complete your order using another form of payment (such as your regular debit card) and submit an itemized receipt for reimbursement.

What eye care expenses aren’t FSA-eligible?

Whatever it is you’d like to use your funds on, first double check that it’s an allowable expense. Non-prescription eyewear (other than reading glasses) is not eligible, and neither are non-prescription colored contact lenses.Your insurance may also restrict eligibility to certain brands of contacts or eyeglasses, and there may even be style restrictions.

Although many medically necessary procedures are covered, be sure to check before having any procedure completed if you intend to pay for it using your FSA funds.

Use it or lose it

Many plans require you to spend the money in your FSA during the plan year, and often December 31 is the deadline. However, some plans offer a grace period of several weeks to use the funds, and you may have the option to carry over up to $500 per year.

If your plan year ends December 31, consider what healthcare products and services you could use before this cutoff, so you can spend whatever funds remain in your account. It could be a great time to pick out some new prescription eyeglasses, stock up on the remaining contacts left in your prescription, or finally visit your eye doctor for that eye exam you’ve been putting off.

We can help you put your FSA funds to good use: taking care of your vision! Call us today to schedule an eye exam, or to ask any questions you may have about which vision care expenses are FSA-eligible.

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