I am on my third of year of working my first Big Girl Job but it was only this past year that I learned about a health savings account.
In short, a Flex Savings Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) works like this: pre-tax money is taken out of each paycheck and put into a separate account. Money from that account can be used to pay for qualified health expenses. The upside to this is that it reduces the amount of your taxable income. If you have family or a chronic health condition, this could mean thousands of dollars. Let’s say for example, if I make $50,000 a year and I sign up to put away $3,000 this year in a health savings account (HSA). I can use the money from that account to pay for health related expenses, and my taxable income is then $47,000.
The downside is that you have to predict at the beginning of the year how much you want taken out, and if you don’t use it all up by the end of the year, you lose it.
In December 2012, I signed up for a Flex Savings Account and told them how much I wanted for the year. This was my first time using amount was calculated based on how much I thought I’d spend on copays and the fact that my birth control cost $30/month. Then in January 2013, my health insurance decided to make my birth control free. Great news. However, this mean I had a lot of extra money to use up in my FSA.
Other than the usual co-pays and prescription costs, these are the things I successfully used my health funds on last year:
- first aid kids or supplies – band-aids, neosporin, etc
- contacts solution – not exactly fitness related, but my most frequent purchase
- chiropractor and physical therapy – the copays that my insurance doesn’t cover
- compression sleeves & socks – Surprisingly, sports compression socks are covered. Shipping fees for any eligible medical needs is also a covered expense, so I was reimbursed for the compression socks and the shipping fees. I bought compression socks on Groupon and that was reimbursable too.
- feet stuff – orthotic inserts, bunion and blister treatments, callous removers
- sunscreen and sunburn products
- my big purchase: Garmin GPS with heart rate monitor!
These are some expenses that I have not tried but might be helpful to fitness nuts or people needing to lose weight:
- crutches if you get injured
- electrolyte replacements – the description says “Examples include: Pedialyte”; I’m not sure how this would apply to a sport-related electrolyte drink like Nuun or Gatorade.
- Fitness programs, weight loss programs, gym memberships – My spending acccount states: “Fees paid for a fitness program may be an eligible expense if prescribed by a physician and substantiated by his or her statement that treatment is necessary to alleviate a medical problem.” I wonder if you are overweight or obese and your doctor writes you a prescription that you need to lose weight, your gym fees would qualify as a health expense.
- weight loss surgery such as bariatric, gastric bypass, or lap band
So there ya go. Now you know what else you can buy if you are in danger of not using up all of your health funds.If you haven’t signed up for an FSA/HSA, remember to do it during open season! If you are lucky to not have any chronic health issues, you can still use it like I did for general fitness stuff.