Did you know that you can use your flexible spending account to purchase Withings thermometers and blood pressure monitors without a doctor’s prescription? Read on to find out more. Plus learn what's new for 2020!
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) as part of your employee health plan, it might be time to start thinking about spending those hard-earned dollars. Over $400 million is lost in FSA accounts every year, with employees either forgetting or missing the deadline to spend it. That’s an astonishing figure, and by simply staying informed about your FSA account, you can avoid making the same mistake. It’s your money, after all! Find out everything you need to know about spending your FSA dollars—and learn more about how limits were increased as well as the new FSA changes for 2020 as part of the CARES Act in response to Covid-19.
What is a flexible spending account?
A flexible spending account allows you to use pre-tax money to pay for health care expenses, either for you, your spouse, or your dependents. The FSA limits have just slightly increased from 2018. In 2018, the limit was $2650 per plan. In 2019, you can contribute as much as $2,700 per employer, or $225 per month. If you’re married, your spouse can contribute up to $2,700 with their employer as well. Update for 2020: now each employee will be able to set aside $2,750. How much should you put into the account? It’s really up to you, but if your monthly medical expenses exceed $225, it’s probably worth considering contributing the limit.
The basic FSA process is relatively straightforward. In essence, you choose how much money you want to save, and that amount will be deducted from your paycheck throughout the year. You can then use those pre-tax dollars to pay for a wide variety of FSA-eligible items and health-care expenses, from visits to the doctor’s office to first-aid supplies.
The biggest benefit of an FSA is probably the fact that you don’t have to pay federal income tax, Social Security tax, or Medicare tax on any of the money you put into it, which can work out to some pretty fantastic savings. How much? Well, let’s say you pay an annual tax rate of 30% and your monthly medical expenses amount to $150—according to WageWorks savings calculator, that’s an annual savings of $540. Certainly nothing to sniff at!
But a word of warning: if you don’t use the funds for medical expenses by the end of the year, you risk losing the money. Some employers offer the option of a “grace period” of up to 2.5 extra months for you to spend the unused cash in your FSA. Alternatively, they may give you the chance to carry over $500 to spend in the following year. But employers aren’t required to offer either of those options, so it’s important to check with your plan admin to find out which, if either, are available.
What products are covered by FSA?
Many different health items are eligible for reimbursement by FSA, including over-the-counter products like bandages, first-aid kits, glucose tablets, and wheelchairs. Mid-2020 update: Have you heard the news? The CARES Act has expanded the types of products covered, including menstrual products such as pads and tampons, and over-the-counter medications are also reimbursable without a prescription or doctor’s note. And if you have a health savings account (HSA), you may now be able to cover telehealth visits.
We spoke with Rochelle DiRe, Chief People Officer at Blink Health, who has years of experience leading HR departments in diverse industries. Of the health FSA she says, “While I am a big proponent of FSA accounts, it’s a common pitfall for people to wait until the end of the year to burn off their balances. The good news is there a number of creative ways to use those soon-to-expire funds. My favorites are trying acupuncture, stocking up on supplies for the bedroom—condoms, pregnancy tests, fertility kits and contraceptives are all covered—or maybe smartest yet, making an investment in something more durable, like a blood pressure monitor. A purchase like that is something that you might not normally spring for but will pay health benefits for years to come.”
Wait, what? Do blood pressure monitors count as an FSA-eligible item?
Yes! Blood pressure monitors are on the list of FSA-eligible items that you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase, which means that you can use your flexible spending account to pay for them. We have a couple of products that you can purchase with an FSA card, our Blood Pressure Monitor and our Smart Temporal Thermometer. Or purchase them at any retailer and get reimbursed for from your account. But with all FSA purchases, with or without a health debit card, always remember to keep your receipt for tax purposes!
Withings BPM Connect
To take your blood pressure, all you need to do is slip the BPM Connect over your arm, and you’re good to go. This FSA-eligible item automatically syncs up with the Health Mate app, providing you with instant feedback and enabling you to better manage your heart health. Find out more about the BPM Connect.
Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer
Thermo utilizes 16 infrared sensors to provide you with precise body temperature readings, and color-coded feedback. And because measurements sync automatically to your smartphone, it’s easy to tell when you need to take action. And while it syncs automatically to the app for iOS and Android, you don’t need to have your phone on you to take readings with it. Find out more about the Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer.
Are blood-pressure monitors and digital thermometers FSA-eligible? The answer is a resounding yes! So if you’re looking to save a few bucks, or not lose the bucks you already put into your flexible spending account, now’s the time to act.