The last day to spend FSA money for 2019 is a month away
Do you have an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) with money in it from tax year 2019? Use it or Lose it. In exactly one month, this money will vanish and you’ll not only be out those tax savings which prompted you to put the money into your account in the first place, but you will actually lose all the money.
It’s a seemingly crazy legality that this money goes away – it almost seems like a slap in the face from the IRS, but in fact, it is a “you snooze, you lose” situation, and you agreed to that.
Luckily, you don’t need elective surgeries or tooth implants scheduled (good luck trying to schedule either of those within a month’s timeline anyway) in order to get that tax-advantaged money spent on your healthcare. In fact, the list is quite inclusive – this article would end up being quite long if we included all the potential items.
Here’s a list of items that can take FSA 2019 funds over the counter or in a time relaxed scenario. Just make sure you make these purchases before March 15th, 2020, or you won’t have any funds left on your FSA debit card.
We included only the ones we thought we interesting, necessary, or particularly mind-blowing – we feel like we got a good cross-section. Let us know if we missed any. (Please take the tongue-in-cheek tone of this article as a way of spreading information with entertainment, and not as a mocking tone).
- Generally, over the counter medicines are eligible (including expensive stuff like Claritin and Prevacid, etc.).
- Air Conditioners, Air Filters, and Air Purifiers are all eligible purchases with a “Letter of Medical Necessity” which means a doctor says you need it. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy score, you actually need a doctor signing off on it, but if the conditions fit, you can get one. You’ll need that letter so make sure you phone it in.
- Anti-Depressants are also eligible with an Rx. You probably already have them covered with your medical insurance, but for those who terminated employment or who are trying a non-formulary, it might make sense to grab them with tax-advantaged dollars out of pocket.
- Sunscreen is a great one if you have a few dollars you can’t figure out a purchase for. That stuff is crazy expensive and it’s never a bad idea to have extra sunscreen on hand when Spring turns to summer.
- A Vasectomy. We will leave that one right here and let you ponder on it. While we are at it – Viagra is also eligible on your FSA debit card with your intact Rx. It’s a little too late for Valentine’s day but “…when the time is right…”
- While we are on the letter “V” Vaporizers – like those things that spew out hot menthol at nighttime that every first-time parent buys two of – they are eligible expenses.
- FIRST AID KITS are totally eligible. Here is an amazing one right here: MY MEDIC First Aid Kits
- Fuel costs for medical care – up to the limit (17 cents a mile) so make sure you keep meticulous records, or you may have an audit agent from the IRS calling you in 4-6 months.
- Batteries for Medical devices. This one is a bit ambiguous, so be able to back up bulk purchases of “AAA” batteries as most medical devices have different sized batteries. No, the remote control for your TV doesn’t count for the tax year 2019 as a medical device.
- Blood Pressure monitor. This is a great purchase for those with Hypertension concerns. No drama purchase – OTC (over-the-counter) and will eat up a small chunk of change from your hard to spend FSA money.
- Certain Books are eligible too – if you get an LMN (Letter of Medical Necessity) from your practitioner
- Braces, even for adults. Time for Invisalign.
- Dandruff Shampoo, which also requires an LMN from a doctor, is a great purchase and the LMN is not particularly hard to get, and the stuff with Salicylic acid at 3% is a miracle for itchy scalp and dryness (we aren’t doctors, and we offer this as an observation, not as medical advice).
- Nearly all Diabetes tools are eligible. One of our favorites is the OTC purchase of diabetic socks, which actually aren’t socks with glucose imbalances brought on by the intake of food, but rather they are super comfortable seamless socks that breathe well and don’t restrict blood flow.
- Disposable face masks are also an LMN purchase, so you’ll need to smooth talk your Nurse Practitioner or Doctor, but stockpiling some top quality virus-specific masks will be helpful for first quarter travel to Southern East Asia and China, and may promote peace of mind during flu season stateside. Make no mistake this is a serious statement. Utilizing the right mask can indeed help with lessening the chance of transmission of things like Coronavirus (we aren’t doctors, and we offer this as an observation, not as medical advice).
- Interestingly, the following surgeries are eligible without too much hassle: LASIK, Laser Eye Surgery and the Lap-Band.
- Lotion IS NOT AN ELIGIBLE EXPENSE (though some doctors can make certain types an eligible expense) so be careful not to buy a bunch of lotion and think it won’t trigger a penalty, etc.
- Heating pads
- Contact Lens Solution
- A Home Defibrillator Unit is an excellent item to have if the Zombie apocalypse happens, and in all seriousness, this can help you get a chunk of money out of the FSA, and it useful for those who think they can put it to use or feel better having one around.
- Eyeglasses and accessories
- With an LMN, a SWIMMING POOL can be an eligible expense. Yes, a SWIMMING POOL. Though if you were thinking an in-ground pool with an infinity edge and beachfront entry, you might be shooting a bit too high, and it’s not going to happen, also, if you make that kind of money and have that level of FSA contributions, then you probably don’t need a swimming pool (Note: the 2019 limit for FSA contribution is $2700 USD).
- TENS Machine. These are amazing, and if you buy a high-quality machine with a plug and some supplies to keep it fed well, these are simply an excellent way to get rid of some dollars from your lingering FSA balance.
- A Treadmill is a great option too, especially for those undergoing rehabilitation, or looking to cut weight dramatically. They will require an LMN though.
- Mold removal with the proper LMN can be an eligible expense for reimbursement.
- Lumbar support aids
- Ketone Test Strips. This is for all you Keto Diet hackers out there. You’re welcome.
- Inversion tables are amazing. They also require an LMN. But it’s not too tough to get one from most doctors.
- Doctor visits for mental health are eligible expenses. For some medical plans, this is an actual necessity since their coverage is sometimes difficult to obtain clearance for or the coverage is not comprehensive enough. It’s about time the costs of mental health wellness and treatment was not borne out of pocket.
Nothing here is intended to be taken as medical advice. We are not healthcare professionals. You need to contact your doctor to determine the proper course of action, and whether you need any of the items discussed above. We similarly make no claim as to the efficacy of any of these products.
Mental Health is serious. We need to take it more seriously as a culture. If you are someone who suffers from mental health concerns, this is an amazing way to pre-plan for the year. In 2020, you can set aside $2,750 into an FSA. Those who need it to help pay for Mental health and wellness products and services should absolutely do this. It’s too important a thing to dismiss. Here’s hoping major changes come to basic healthcare plans to improve mental health visits and coverages across the board, but good planning can be a lifesaver.
If this list is not helpful to you because you are already trained int eh fine art of FSA manipulation, please use it as a basis for your planning for 2020. Use your FSA contributions to help you meet your new year’s resolutions and those lofty health goals for the year.