Budgeting for an annual FSA account focused on health improvements beyond doctor visits.
Concierge physicians office, with regular blood test, covid test, sick visits, skin checks, and diet and nutrition advice. All of these things can be paid for using a benefit many companies offer, the Flexible Spending Arrangement (also a Flexible Spending Account). In the US, the IRS allows employers to offer an FSA to employees as a way to help provide for medical coverage. They can be used to “reimburse you for qualified medical expenses you incurred during the period of coverage.” The key is to understand what is considered a “qualified medical expense”. Not surprisingly, many personal health and wellness trackers qualify.
Tools that help monitor your health and are offered over the counter can be paid for entirely out of his account. That does not make them free, since you still have to fund an FSA. Instead the FSA is funded with money that is not taxed, so in effect you can get these trackers at a a discount that is equal to your marginal tax rate which can be up to 37%. That means all these products and services suddenly can be had for almost half price!
Spend your FSA money to improve your health!
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There are limits to how much you can fund an FSA with. That is $2750 for the year 2021. But that money can go a long ways. Let’s look at some areas where you can spend that money to see how much it can be used to improve your health. Of course, if you have doctor’s bills, those are almost always able to be reimbursed from the account. But for now we’ll assume you have avoided the doctor and their bills and just want to pro actively spend your FSA on improving your health and understanding of your body. I am not a lawyer or an accountant, so always do your own research and confirm coverage and reimbursements of your exact situation.
Blood Pressure Cuff
If you have any reason to track your vital statistics, and we all do, a simple blood pressure cuff is refundable under an FSA. This is a great device to have in the house, along with other staples like a thermometer, a pulse oximeter, otoscope (ear checker!), and a first aid kit. All of these also typically fall under the definitions covered by the guidelines for FSA eligible expenses. Especially if you have a remaining balance in your account, which expires annually, picking up these staples beats losing the money. You can always load up on these one time, or just stock up on common non-perishable covered items like bandages.
Just like the above, scales very often fit the definition of eligible FSA products. Especially easy to justify are those that track multiple readings (heart rate, body fat) that further support their medical rationale. Technically most basic scales would have to also be medically required, which might mean discussing a weight management plan with your doctor. For most adults this should be a part of a standard discussion since even if you are a healthy weight, big sudden changes can indicate a number of issues so it’s good to have a sense of things outside of the doctors office.
Food Sensitivity and Allergy Tests
Over the counter available allergy and genetic screenings also are FSA eligible (always check to verify!). Most of them are at home kits that make you spit in a tube, or use an included finger prick to take a simple blood sample, which is then sent to a lab. The results get delivered a few weeks later and can be eye opening. Friends who have also taken one of the allergy tests have been thrilled at the results as they can often uncover unknown food sensitivities. Removing simple foods with high reaction can drastically change how you feel day to day. Sadly this might mean altering some of your favorite dishes, say you are a fan of Italian food but trying to cut out garlic! Even so, eliminating the food is not required but knowing the sensitivity can help you determine when and how much to have and plan for the results.
Spend Your Leftover FSA Balance
Want to find a great product or service to spend the remainder of your FSA balance before it expries?