Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thank Heavens For My Flexible Spending Account

Sallie's Niece recently wrote about her misadventures with vision insurance. This reminded me that I need to get new frames.

I got my eyes examined last October and I looked into getting new eyeglasses at that time. However, my optician told me that my vision plan would not cover the glasses since I purchased contact lenses within the past 12 months. Under my vision plan, I can get new frames every 24 months, or, contact lense every 12 months. However, I cannot get both in the same year.

I just went back to my optician to buy my glasses not realizing my prescription expired in October. Doh!! Fortunately, my optician made an exception. Phew!

Notwithstanding my vision plan, though, my new glasses cost me $281!! This is due to the fact that in addition to the new frames, I also requested thin lenses (or else I'll look like I'm wearing coke bottle bottoms), anti-glare coating and Transition lenses. (After all, I live in sunny Southern California and I can't wear sunglasses over my glasses.)

Thank heavens I currently have a $330 balance in my flexible spending account. Every year, I elect to contribute $20 per paycheck towards my FSA on a pre-tax basis. Since it's a "use-it-or-lose-it" plan where I’ll forfeit any money I haven’t spent by December 31, this is money well spent. (And this means my glasses are paid with pre-tax money. Yeay!)

I think many employers are conducting open enrollment for employee benefits now. I highly recommend that everyone contribute some money into their HSA. It's never a bad idea to put some money away for your health, especially on a pre-tax basis.


Sallie's Niece said...

I should have started a FSA last year! Not going to sign up this year with the uncertaintly of my job but it sounds like a great idea.

Miss M said...

Hey hon, quick correction on the last paragraph. You switched to HSA when you meant FSA. I did a compare/contrast of the two recently cause I see the two interchanged a lot. I admit I don't contribute to my FSA, it's the use it or lose it part that scares me. I don't use much health care in the year, but I guess I could set a little aside. I think it's our open enrollment right now too.

MoneyMateKate said...

Note about these types of can often use them for services not covered by most insurances. Including MASSAGE (and acupuncture, Weight Watchers meetings, etc). Check the details of your plan, sometimes you need a doctor to write a note recommending things like this in order to use the FSA/HSA funds. So that makes your old $80 massage more like $60 because of the whole pre-tax thing! And finding this stuff out now can either help you use up unused funds you might otherwise lose as well as plan for next year's contribution level.

Money Beagle said...

Our open enrollment just started today and I am going to have to do some homework. With my wife due to give birth plus the first six months of childcare, I'm expecting our out-of-pocket costs to be much higher than in years past, so contributing to an HSA is a must-do this year. Now, I just need to estimate how much out of pocket I might expect so that I'm not too far over or under.

Shtinkykat said...

Miss M: Woops. Thanks for catching the mistake. I've had years where I had quite a bit of money left over. But I bought contact lense solutions, Tylenol, etc. etc. to use it all up.

MMK: That's a GREAT idea. I should talk to my doctor about this!

MoneyBeagle: I'll ask my friend who gave birth. Although she has twins, I have feeling that your costs won't be 1/2 of hers.

Miss M said...

I hope that wasn't rude, I don't know my blog etiquette yet. I've seen a lot of confusion surrounding the two, HSAs are a recent invention.

PS - I'm a geek in glasses right now, my contacts were bugging me

Shtinkykat said...

Miss M: You weren't being rude and no offense taken. Better to correct any errors for the sake of the readers. Thanks! P.S. Geeks rule!